(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
The sixth annual Buffalo Island American Cancer Relay for Life was held Friday, June 15, at the Leachville City Park. Relay for Life is the American Cancer society's signature event. The event honors cancer survivors who are winning their fight. It is also a memorial for loved ones who lost their battle against cancer.
It also gives communities the opportunity to help in finding a cure through research and help cancer victims and their families.
"We appreciate all of our sponsors, teams, and individuals who help the Buffalo Island Relay such a success," Co-Chair Brenda Matheny said.
Throughout the campaign individual teams sponsored fundraising events. The Relay is the grand finale of the year's event where teams gather, set up campsites, food booths and games.
This year's teams included Leachville Police Department, Chain Reaction from Arbyrd, Leachville Farmer's Market, New Harmony Baptist Church of Manila, Second Baptist Church of Leachville, Kayes' Classic Rodders, Heritage Bank, the Nifty Fifties, New Providence Baptist Church, Shooting Star Photography, Johnson's Hot Rods, Crittenden Girls, Medic One, and Leachville Fire Department.
The NASCAR theme, "Racing for a Cure," was carried out throughout the campsites.
Following the National Anthem, sung by Donna Hampton, cancer survivors were recognized during the survivor ceremony led by Jennie Fleeman, survivor chairman. This year's honorary survivors included Caroline Taylor, Caraway, Hannah Rook, Lake City, Doris Ballard, Monette, Debbie Kisner, Black Oak, Peggy Larrow, Manila, Alice and Darryl Hodges, Buckeye/Leachville, and Mildred and A.D. Berry of Manila.
Each survivor was recognized. A special presentation of a $1,000 scholarship from the American Cancer Society was made to honorary survivor Hannah Rook. Miss Rook is a 2007 graduate of Riverside High School.
Caraway Mayor Barry Riley presented a check from the city in honor of the youngest honorary survivor Caroline Taylor, 5.
Cancer survivors took the first victory lap following a balloon release. They were then joined by family and friends on the track for the second lap before being joined by team members and others.
DJ music was provided by Doug Masters. Entertainment was provided by Donna Hampton.
Names in honor of survivors and in memory of loved ones were read by Mark Wheeler, Shelia Spurlock, and Ruth Keith. Luminaries were lit around the track to light the way. All activities stopped as a silent memory lap was held at the completion of the names being read.
Added activities to this year's event included a silent auction, drawings for a pie throwing contest, and a "boxcar" design and race. Spud (Ed Watson),the Clown, was also welcomed as he made balloon animals for the children.
"We appreciate Leachville Mayor Spurlock, Leachville Police Chief Bryan Crites, Officers Steve Lancaster and Carle Treadway, Leachville Council member Mark Wheeler, members of the Fire Department Richie Pace, Tony Nix, Eddie Adams, and Monette Police Officer Aaron Davis for volunteering to take a pie in the face for a good cause," Matheny said.
Teams were judged in different categories including campsites, best grub, spirit stick, and most luminaries sold by a team or an individual.
Winners in different categories were:
Campsites -- Nifty Fifty's Pit Stop, first place; New Harmony Baptist Church, second place; New Providence Baptist Church, third place.
Best Grub -- New Harmony Baptist Church, first place; New Providence Baptist Church, second place; Leachville Fire Department, third place.
Spirit Stick -- Johnson's Hot Rods, first place; Crittenden Regional Girls, second place; Nifty Fifties, third place.
Team luminary sales went to Nifty Fifties. They also won the most money raised by a team.
Brenda Matheny was awarded the prize for the individual selling of the most luminaries, a honor she has received for six consecutive years.
She was also presented a plaque of appreciation from the American Cancer society for her work and dedication to the Buffalo Island American Cancer Society.
Matheny and Martha Smith, area American Cancer Manger, expressed their appreciation to all of the sponsors, the teams, the steering committee, and citizens who joined together to help make a difference.
The 2007 Buffalo Island Relay for Life raised over $20,000.