Last updated: August 05. 2014 8:45PM - 222 Views
Photos and story by Alberta Stojkovic Correspondent

One year Survivors have the honor of carrying the banner for the first laps of the 18 hour Relay for Life Friday evening at the Mt. Gilead track.
One year Survivors have the honor of carrying the banner for the first laps of the 18 hour Relay for Life Friday evening at the Mt. Gilead track.
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There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd at the Relay for Life Opening Ceremony last week after the Honorary Chairman, Sarah Brenneman, spoke about her battle with cancer.

Brenneman told how her fight began in 1987 when she was only four years old and was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She was treated with radiation and chemotherapy and was in remission for nine months when the cancer relapsed into Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Sarah then went through three years of chemo.

When Brenneman was 21 in 2004, a car accident led to the discovery of renal cell carcinoma. As a result, her adrenal gland and kidney were removed. In 2008 another thyroid tumor was discovered and a thyroidectomy was required.

“We may not always understand or agree with God’s plan,” Brenneman said with feeling. “Remember, God is in control and everything happens for a reason and in God’s timing, not our own.”

The Survivor Dinner opened the evening in the Mount Gilead High School (MGHS) cafeteria with 75 Survivors registered. The meal was prepared by Lisa Saunders, Brenda Mathews and Rosemary Levings. 300 registered for participation in the relay prior to the event, while many others came and went over the course of the evening.

Relay for Life Chairman, Connie Mattingly also gave special recognition to the 4-H Club led by Tina Seymour. They served dinner and bought table cloths and dinnerware for the meal. The youth from Harmony Baptist Church prepared the luminary that light the words “Hope” and “Cure” in the “Messages to Heaven” Luminaria Ceremony.

Mattingly was also touched by the enthusiasm of Mt. Gilead High School students who participated in many of the Relay activities from the “Show me your shoes” lap to the “Frozen T Shirt Relay Race.”

Mattingly served as chairman of the relay for the past three years. As a cancer survivor herself and Morrow County Hospital Employee Health Nurse, she talked about how cancer is a concern for Morrow County residents. She related that on average 137-151 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year in Morrow County. One in three Morrow County residents will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and two out of three will survive their diagnosis.

First place Relay team recognition went to Open Arms Christian Church of Iberia. First Knox National Bank was named second place team and third place went to the Candlewood team. First place for Spirit Stick competition also went to Open Arms Church for their “Jack in the Box” stick. Second went to Morrow Board of MRDD for their “Fishing Pole” stick and First Knox Bank got third with their “Torch” stick.

Other races and activities included: Team Boat Race, Show your Shoes, Castaway Cancer Ribbon Contest, Quarters, and Food Challenge. Accumulated team spirit points at the relay were: First Knox, 100; Open Arms, 2850; MCDD, 3450; Edison UMC, 200 and Hospital 450.

Fund raising went well both over the year and at the relay. It was the first time in four years to go 18 hours without a storm at the relay. Over the year the Morrow County Relay raised $28,000 toward their goal of $30,000. Mattingly said there are still a couple teams that are finishing fund raisers.

“Planning will be starting again in September and our 2015 kickoff will be in January.” Mattingly said she was up most of 32 hours over the relay weekend, “Relay takes over your life.”

Correspondent Alberta Stojkovic can be reached at alberta_s16@hotmail.com.

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