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Final preparations underway for East Lincoln Relay for Life

A pep talk by representatives of the American Red Cross highlighted one of the last team captain’s meetings for the upcoming East Lincoln Relay for Life, scheduled April 7 and 8 at East Lincoln High School.
According to East Lincoln Relay chairwoman Patsy Black, the goals for both the Lincolnton and East Lincoln Relay are both the same.
“The goal is $206,000,” said Black.
One tool being used to help raise funds towards that goal this year is the Internet.
“It was used just for the Lincolnton relay last year,” said Black. “And there was little participation. This year, more teams have signed up online. I’m surprised by the good numbers. The Internet is proving to be effective.”
Officials with the American Cancer Society in Charlotte said that while the Internet was a great tool for fundraising, the number one tool for raising funds each year was letter writing.
“E-mails are also effective,” said ACS representative Jennifer Novotny. “Be sure you use your address lists.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Novotny told the group that 550 communities in the South Atlantic Division – from Maryland to Georgia – are participating in Relays.
“You will start us off for the season,” she said. “You guys do a great job kicking off the season for us year after year.”
According to Novotny, ACS’ goal by 2010 is to have 65 percent of adults nationwide get colorectal screenings.
“Over 145,000 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in 2005,” said Novotny. “Colorectal cancer is 90 percent curable if caught early.”
The group also learned from ACS Lincoln County mission manager Carla Dockery that the ACS is partnering with the Lincoln County Health Department for a special program.
“It’s a program that enables every restaurant in Lincoln County to be smoke free,” said Dockery. “About 10 restaurants are participating in the program so far.”
The goal, according to Dockery, is to inform restaurants about the program in a positive manner.
“We’re in the process of completing a pamphlet that will name all of the restaurants participating in the program,” said Dockery. “We’re also going to give the restaurants yard signage advertising the fact they are smoke free.”
The 32 teams that will participate in this weekend’s relay will also be conducting awareness programs during the event.
Black said East Lincoln Relay would not know preliminary fund-raising totals until Bank Night, which is Thursday at Peoples Bank at N.C. 16/73 in Denver.
In last year’s East Lincoln Relay for Life, 46 teams participated.
Organizers estimated that about 8,000 people attended last year’s relay, raising around $194,000.
“That’s roughly $5.61 per adult in Lincoln County,” said Black. “This year, counting everyone involved, I’m expecting around 10,000 people to participate throughout the entire event.”
Black added that every year there has been a Relay for Life in eastern Lincoln County, the Relay has been sixth in per-capita giving per adult.
“The Relay started in eastern Lincoln County because people weren’t coming to Lincoln to participate there,” said Black. “Members of ACS asked the Lincoln/Lincoln County Chamber to start a relay here. Chamber president Ken Kindley told them to call me and I can’t say no,” said Black.
Black has been sole chairman of the relay event since 2001.
“We’re encouraging people to really give this year,” said Black. “It’s hard for people to stretch their dollars with all of the fund-raisers going on. The only way to cure cancer is to fund research.”
Relay, according to Black, is doing more for the Denver area than just raising funds.
“There wasn’t anything in east Lincoln that drew everyone together, that people would feel comfortable doing,” said Black. “When Relay started, it brought the community together. We’ve never had that before.”
Black added that when Relay started, cancer was a “no-no word.”
“We couldn’t find cancer survivors the first year,” said Black. “We’re expecting 200 cancer survivors during this year’s Relay.”
One of these survivors is Mary Lou Robinson. She and her husband, Michael, will play a big part in this year’s Relay.
“Mary Lou and Michael Robinson are team mentors,” said Black. “Mike also works with logistics, helping with the layout for the team tents.” Black added that hall-of-fame broadcaster Doug Mayes will serve as this year’s Relay honorary chairperson.
Back in December 2005, the Tree of Hope at Peoples Bank in Denver was a “fund raising kickoff for Relay” according to Black.
There, Mary Lou Robinson said she had been cancer free for the past seven years.
“I knew I was having a problem, but the doctors didn’t agree,” said Robinson. “They didn’t think it was cancer.”
It was only after a biopsy was performed was it discovered Robinson had breast cancer.
“At first, I had a lot of questions, then I decided that cancer wasn’t going to take my life,” she said. “I started taking chemotherapy treatments to battle the cancer. I even ended up staying 19 days in Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem while battling the disease in 1998.”
Robinson had her last checkup in November. She remains cancer free.
Black said the tree honors people like Robinson — who have beaten cancer — and memorializes those who lost their fight against the disease.
It was the fourth year for the tree lighting at the bank according to Black.
Robinson’s husband, Michael, said persistence is what saved his wife’s life.
“She just wouldn’t take no for an answer and insisted that the doctors followed up,” he said.
by Jon Mayhew

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