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Relay for Life teams gather for ‘Relay Night’

The 2017 Marengo County Relay for Life fundraising season came to close Friday night with the annual Relay Night held at the Demopolis City Landing.

With a theme of “Lights, Camera, Action, Relay!,” this year’s fundraising efforts was a big success, according to organizers. Prior to Friday’s Relay Night, there was also the annual Survivor’s Reception held earlier in April.

The official goal for this year’s fundraising efforts was $40,000. While the final amount raised has not been determined, and some donations are still being collected, those involved said they are anticipating coming close to that goal.

A Marengo Academy student accepts the award for the Top Fundraising Schools. MA raised almost $1,200 in the Penny War Education Challenge that involved schools from Linden and Demopolis.

“We had a great event and we sincerely appreciate the community’s efforts. The volunteers, Relay teams, and the city did a great job. We hope this year’s success will encourage even more participation next year,” said Community Chairperson Doris Stephens.

The Relay Night included an assortment of activities, including the traditional Survivor’s Lap, Caregiver’s Lap and the Team Recognition Lap. The top fundraising teams were recognized and the luminaries placed in honor of those who have fought cancer were placed along the walking track.

“The energy at the event was one of the best I’ve seen in the seven years I’ve been working in Marengo County. The support and work of this year’s teams were evident,” said Bridget Mills, the senior community manager with the American Cancer Society.

Awards presented included: Top Fundraising Team, Robertson Bank; Spirit of Relay Award, Monica Cox; Best Campsite, Robertson Bank; Top On-Campsite Fundraiser, Trustmark Bank; Relay Rookie Award, and The Ruby Slippers with Regina Kennedy; Top Fundraising School.

Also recognized was Marengo Academy whose students raised $1,192 through the Penny War Education Challenge held between schools in Linden and Demopolis.

Awards were also presented to cancer survivors during the Survivors’ Banquet on April 15. The Hope Award was presented to Jean McCarter, the Golden Survivor Award went to Ruth Levitz, and the Journey Award was presented to Sandy Lynch.

Mills said she hopes the success of this year’s Relay for Life will grow and encourage others to participate.

“We want to see more people, organizations, and businesses participate from throughout Marengo County. People can participate by becoming a committee member, starting a team, or being a sponsor. Anyone can sign up to be a volunteer. Through Relay for Life, we are saving lives and making great strides toward the ultimate goal — finding a cure,” she said.

Friday night’s event included opening remarks by Demopolis Mayor John Laney, prayer by Rev. Wendell Charleston, and the National Anthem performed by Jill Tutt.

Local Relay teams included: Walmart Sparks, Robertson Banking Company, Trustmark National Bank, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, Naheola Credit Union, SouthernCare, Woodhaven Manor Nursing Home, the Ruby Slippers, Comfort Care Hospice, AmStar, and Christian Chapel Church.

Serving as event leaders were: Stephens as the event lead; Kinya Isaac-Turner, Survivors Lead; LaToya Witherspoon, Team Development; Monica Cox, Sponsorship Lead; Jennifer Mack, Luminary Lead; and Drew Martin and Regions Bank, Accounting Lead.

At the Survivors’ Banquet the following awards were presented: Golden Survivor, Ruth Levitz, 51-year survivor; Journey Award, Sandy Lynch, 13-year survivor; Relay Rookie, VL Hackworth, 6 month survivor; and the Hope Award, Jean McCarter, 21-day survivor.

Sponsors for this year’s Relay for Life are Walmart, Trustmark Bank, Robertson Bank, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, Regions Bank, City of Demopolis, Alabama Power Foundation, Smokin’ Jacks, Demopolis Hardwood, Mason and Gardner CPA, Parr’s Chevron, Stone Bridge Appraisal Company, Personal Touch, Marengo Insurance Agency, Mr. G’s Restaurant, and the Greene  County Sheriff’s Office.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, May 10, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)