(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
This year's theme, Firemen Fighting the Flames of Cancer, was used in campsite decorations. Teams included Rebound Band and Manila Family Music; Leachville Methodist Sonshine Sunday School Class; Buffalo Island Central East Elementary; New Harmony Baptist Church Firehouse Dogs youth group; New Harmony Baptist Church Big Firehouse Dogs; Red Hot Freedom Cookers, Southern Belles & Beaus; The Nifty Flame Fighters; Heritage Bank Flame Stompers; Manila First United Methodist Church Bible Warriors; The Honey Cypress Red Hot Residents; Sonic Crew (Manila, Lake City and Lepanto); Mikey's Blazin Cancer Kickers; Kay's Flaming Rodders; BIC Junior High Cheerleaders; Stacey Walker Fireflies Photography, and Leachville Police, Fire, and First Responders.
Chairman Brenda Matheny thanked all of the sponsors, individuals and groups who held fundraisers, sold luminaries, and attended.
"The Relay for Life is the finale of months of planning and fundraising to battle cancer," Matheny said. "Words fall short of being able to express my appreciation for all the hard work that has taken place to make this relay a success. It takes a combined effort of our corporate sponsors, committee members, and staff to put an event like this together, but the most important part is the teams. From bake sales to road blocks, wrestling and Miss Mess and Miss Tackey pageants, yard sticks filled with quarters, Spring Fling, raffle tickets, stars, pancake dinners, and luminaries, these teams have gone the extra mile to raise funds needed to one day live in a cancer free world. We look forward to the day when we no longer need to have Relay for Life, but until that day comes, we will continue the fight. Working together, we can make that day happen. Remember, it doesn't take a lot, just a lot of people doing a little work and support."
Following the National Anthem, sung by Donna Hampton, a survivor ceremony was held. Sharon McKinney, survivor chairman, introduced cancer survivors, lighting a candle in their honor and one in memory of those who have lost their battle to cancer.
A balloon release was held followed by survivors taking the first victory walk as team members and others lined the walking track applauding them as they walked. Survivors were joined by family members taking the second walk before others joined in the relay.
Just before the sun went down, luminaries (candles placed along the walkway) were lit. The luminaries were purchased in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of friends and family who have lost their battle to cancer. Mark Wheeler, Ruth Keith, Rebecca Clowers, Syrena Duffell, and Sheila Spurlock read the names during the luminary ceremony followed by a silent lap.
Food booths, silent auction, and game booths were available at the different campsites. DJ music was provided by Doug Masters along with local talent and karaoke.
Awards were presented at 10 p.m.
Best Grub -- second runner-up, Southern Bells & Beaus; first runner-up, Honey Cypress Red Hot Resident; first place, New Harmony Big Firehouse Dogs.
Best Team Spirit -- second runner-up, New Harmony Big Firehouse Dogs; first runner-up, Heritage Bank Flame Stompers; first place, Buffalo Island Central Junior High Cheerleaders.
Best Campsite -- second runner-up, Honey Cypress Red Hot Residents; first runner-up, New Harmony Firehouse Dogs Youth group; winner, Kay Staggs, Flaming Rodders.
Best Spirit Stick -- second runner-up, Southern Bells & Beaus; first runner-up, Kay Staggs Flame Rodders; winner, Mikey's Blazin Cancer Kickers.
Most Luminaries sold - Individual, Ronnie Horner; Team, Nifty 50 Flame Fighers.
Most funds raised for one event - second runner-up, Buffalo Island Central East Elementary $677.21; first runner-up, Heritage Bank Flame Stompers $982; winner, Leachville Methodist Sonshine Class $2,012.75.
Overall top fundraiser -- Rebound Band and Manila Family Music - $2,230.85.
The honorary survivors representing their towns were Marvin Browning, Caraway; Roy Eldridge, Lake City; Elijah Couch, Black Oak; JoAnn Rich, Manila; Mozell Eubanks, Leachville; Shirley Thompson, Leachville; and Brandon McKuin, Monette.
A spectacular firework display by the Cave Dwellers was set off in honor of the cancer survivors.