Residents Complete Record Relay For Life For Cancer Treatment

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Exhausted volunteers concluded the most successful Relay for Life fund-raising campaign in Patrick County's history late Saturday night with renewed "HOPE" for a cancer-free tomorrow, having raised approximately $75,000 to fight the devastating disease to find cancer treatment. That total topped last year's record of $62,000 and exceeded this year's $52,000 goal by about $23,000. (Relay team volunteers will add to the $75,000 total Saturday night, May 24th when they provide the concessions for the Patrick County Music Association Jamboree at Rotary Field in Stuart.)

"It was a phenomenal event," said LaVergne Collins, co-chairperson of the Patrick County Relay for Life Committee. She and fellow co-chair Betty Conner, local Relay Committee Treasurer June Gunter, and other volunteers stayed at the Patrick County Community Center at DeHart Park well past midnight into the wee hours Sunday morning counting money raised during the event and the radio-thon, and throughout the 4-month campaign.

Robin Minter, American Cancer Society Relay for Life Community Manager for Patrick County, said 36 teams comprised of about 500 members worked together beautifully in raising a record amount of funds for this cause locally. The money will help to fund the continuing efforts of Nobel Prize-winning researchers to find a cure for cancer and to provide provide programs and services to cancer patients and their caregivers in our community.

Minter was also elated over the large turnout of citizens for Saturday's Relay for Life family outing. The largest crowd ever to attend the event brought DeHart Park to a bustling frenzy of activity that included games and activities for the children, contests to promote cancer awareness and prevention, live entertainment, delicious food, and the close fellowship for which Patrick County has long been noted. Highlights included the opening Survivor's Walk honoring hundreds of cancer survivors in our community, the Womanless Beauty Pageant (won by Bobby Alley who portrayed the lusty "Bubblicious"), the Race for a Cure event featuring race cars constructed from cardboard and serviced by pit crews in an event to promote American Cancer Society's patient transportation services, the live music by local entertainers, and the touching luminary ceremony that focused on the word "HOPE" that was spelled out in lights on the hill overlooking DeHart Park with luminaria purchased by citizens in honor and memory of loved ones.

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I commend the many survivors and caregivers who were honored during the event. I would also like to personally thank cancer survivor Mr. Don Sall, who was my special guest at the Relay event. It was an honor for me to bring Mr. Sall to DeHart Park from the Blue Ridge Nursing Center where he is undergoing rehabilitation following the removal of a hip and leg because of bone cancer, allowing him to participate in the survivor's walk from his wheelchair. Thanks too to Clyde Crissman, William Hines, and others who assisted me in taking care of Mr. Sall during his stay at the event and transporting him back to the nursing center.

The $75,000 countywide Relay for Life total includes the sum of more than $13,200 pledged and donated during WHEO's second annual "12 Hours for a Cure II" radio-thon broadcast Friday, May 16th from sunrise to sunset. More than half of the $13,200 plus has already been collected. I would like to urge that WHEO listeners who have not yet turned in the money contributed during Friday's broadcast to quickly honor your pledges so that all of the radio-thon money can be turned in to the American Cancer Society and and put to work in the fight against cancer immediately. The radio-thon total of $13,200 represents close to 10% of the $75,000 raised so far. Checks should be made payable to the American Cancer Society and mailed to WHEO, c/o Relay for Life, 3824 Wayside Rd., Stuart, VA 24171.

The "12 Hours for a Cure II" radio-thon was presented by the WHEO Relay for Life team, the Kilowatts for a Cure in Memory of Sandra Merritt Rogers. An avid Relay for Life supporter as principal of Woolwine Elementary School, my wife Sandra died of cancer in July 2006. Thanks to my co-workers and WHEO teammates for a phenomenal job in running a smooth radio-thon and open house. I know that Sandra was smiling upon our efforts from her Heavenly home.

I would like to personally thank every citizen, business, and community organization that supported our radio-thon through your donations to Relay for Life, prayers, volunteer assistance, donations of food for the radio-thon, and other assistance especially the hard work of Kevin and Paula Polachek who solicited donations and prepared the food served to our hungry guests. The "12 Hours for a Cure II" radio-thon and the WHEO open house accompanying the broadcast drew a massive radio audience and a large crowd of citizens to the radio station for a day of fun, food, fellowship, live entertainment, and the satisfaction of knowing that we were making a difference in the fight against cancer in our community.

Special thanks goes to the appoximately 50 talented local musicians who donated their time and talents to make the radio-thon successful, the many citizens who volunteered their services and assistance in conducting the radio-thon, and especially to the many people who donated the more than $13,200 that far exceeded our expectations given the poor economy, rising prices, and a forthcoming county tax increase. Although I greatly despise buttermilk, I agreed to drink a few sips on the air when we reached and ultimately exceeded our $12,500 goal Friday evening. The temporary bad taste that the buttermilk left in my mouth (along with the desperate frown upon my face) was more than relieved by knowing that it was all for a great cause and part of our community wide efforts to achieve VICTORY in the war on cancer!

The record-setting 2008 Relay for Life cancer fund-raising campaign in Patrick County was truly a community effort and a perfect example of the amazing feats that we can accomplish when we work together following God's direction. That is a hallmark of our community! You are amazing Patrick County! I sincerely thank each of my fellow Patrick Countians for your support or this worthwhile cause and ask God to bless you richly for your sacrifices. - By Richard Rogers of richardrogerswheo.blogspot.com/.

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