"United We Stand to Fight Against Cancer" was the theme of the seventh annual Buffalo Island American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The event was held Friday, June 27, 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 against cancer. It is also a memorial for those who have lost their battle to cancer.
(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Each year honorary survivors are chosen to represent each town. The 2008 honorary survivors are Mikey Sullivan, Caraway; Marie George, Lake City; Jimmie Sue Spencer, Black Oak; Calvnita Halfacre, Manila; Billie Murray, Leachville; and Kay Hultquist, Leachville.
Charles "Poss" Cato of Monette, one of the 2008 honorees, lost his battle to cancer on June 8.
"We appreciate all of our sponsors, teams, and individuals who help make the Buffalo Island Relay for Life such a success," Brenda Matheny, chairman, said.
Throughout the campaign, individual teams sponsor fundraising events. The Relay is the grand finale of the year's event where teams gather, set up campsites, food booths and games.
The evening started with the singing of the National Anthem by Donna Hampton. Each survivor was introduced and given a balloon for a balloon release.
Jennie Fleeman, survivor chairman, was presented a plaque for her years of service to the Relay for Life. Because of her health she will not be able to serve as survivor chairman next year but said she will support the Buffalo Island Relay in other ways.
Manila Pro Hardware donated a guitar to be given away to one of the survivors. A drawing was held and John Moore was the winner of the guitar.
Survivors took part in the balloon release before taking the first victory lap around the track. They were given a standing ovation as they walked the track. Family members joined them in a second lap before everyone joined in the walk.
Caraway Mayor Barry Riley presented a check from the city in honor of Mikey Sullivan, Caraway's honorary survivor. Mikey's team, "Mikey's Tumor Troopers," was made of family and friends.
Other teams with booths included New Harmony Patriots, New Harmony Little Patriots, Cotton Morris and the Freedom Cookers, Kay's Classic Rodders, B.J. and Teresa Young's Southern Bells and Beaus, Nifty Fifties Stars and Stripes, Leachville, Police, Fire and First Responders, Crittenden Crew, and Sharon Rebound-Manila Family Music.
Trophies and plaques were awarded to teams in several categories.
Campsite winners were Mikey's Tumor Troopers, second runner-up; Freedom Cookers, first runner-up; and Kay's Classic Rodders, first place.
Best Grub -- Kay's Classic Rodders, second runner-up; New Harmony Patriots, first runner-up; and Southern Bells and Beaus, winner.
Spirit Stick -- Southern Bells and Beaus, second runner-up; Mikey's Tumor Troopers, first runner-up; New Harmony Patriots, winner.
Most Money Raised -- Leachville Methodist Choir and Sonshine Class, second runner-up; Mikey's Tumor Troopers, first runner-up; and Nifty Fifties, winner.
Most luminaries sold -- Brenda Matheny, individual; Nifty Fifty Stars and Stripes, team winner.
A silent auction, drawings for prizes, pie throwing contest, dunking booth, and a visit from Spud the Clown were all part of the festivities.
Leachville Mayor Sheila Spurlock, Chief of Police Keith Evans, several council members including Mark Wheeler, Bill Hetler, Officer Mitchell Lasater, John Stone; Buffalo Island Central High School Principal Randy Rose and others volunteered to get a pie in the face as well as get wet in the dunking booth to help raise money for the Relay.
"Mark Johnson with the fire department and first responder was a good sport getting wet in the dunking booth," Matheny said. "Barbara Woods, one of the drawing winners for the pie throw, volunteered her husband, Bobby Woods, to be her target. He was also a good sport and we appreciate each and every person who took part."
DJ music was provided by Doug Masters. Donna Hampton was the guest singer. Several young people enjoyed a karaoke time.
A quilt made and donated for the Buffalo Island Relay for Life was won by Janet Martin. Leon Swihart won the drawing for a boys bicycle. Trish Graft won the drawing for a girls bicycle.
"We appreciate Leachville Mayor Spurlock and the city council for allowing us the use of the city park," Matheny said. "We also appreciate the help from the Leachville city employees who helped with getting the park ready and the clean-up. I appreciate all of the committee members and teams for their support. Also, several young people came to the park early Friday morning to help fill and place the luminaries around the track and create the Wall of Tribute. We had over 700 luminaries purchased this year."
Matheny said according to statistics from the American Cancer Society, approximately 745,180 men and 692,000 women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2008. An estimated 294,120 men and 71,530 women will lose their battle. Even though these numbers are staggering, fewer than half of the people diagnosed with cancer today will die of the disease.
The 2008 Buffalo Island Relay for Life raised an estimated $21,000.
"The Relay for Life is about a community taking up the fight against cancer," Matheny said.