Buffalo Island hosts ninth American Cancer Relay for Life

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

High temperatures, a little rain and lightning didn't stop the 2010 Buffalo Island Relay for Life held Friday night at the Leachville City Park. The usual all night event did come to an early close at 10:30 p.m. due to the weather. However, there was enough time to honor the survivors and to remember family and friends who lost their battle to cancer.

Cancer survivors release balloons before they take the first walk around the track. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Survivors attending the Relay and family members took the first victory lap around the track with over 500 luminaries lighting the way.

Luminaries are candles purchased in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of those who died from cancer. The candles are placed in white bags with individual names written on the outside and placed around the track.

This year's Relay theme was "Decades of More Birthdays." Teams chose a decade to use as their campsite theme. Decades included the 1920s, 1950s, 1960s, and the 1970s.

Brenda Matheny, chairman of the event, welcomed everyone and gave a special thanks to the sponsors, steering committee and teams for their hard work and dedication.

This year's teams included Kay's 50s Classic Riders Diner; Groovy Southerners; New Harmony Baptist Church 1920 Untouchables; New Harmony Baptist Youth Fight Cancer; Southern Belles and Beaus; Nifty Fifties; Heritage Hippies and Mikey's Prevention Picketers; Red Hot Freedom Cookers; Youth Gone Wild; Manila Family Music Show/Rebound Band and Backward Boys; Leachville Methodist Church and Sonshine Classic; Sonic Crew (Manila, Lake City, Lepanto); Ronnie's Rascals from Manila Methodist Church; Leachville Police, Fire Department and First Responders.

Steering Committee members are Rebecca Clowers, co-chair; Janice Edgin, team recruitment; Brenda Matheny, sponsorship; Revis Blaylock, publicity; Sharon McKinney, survivorship; Tammy Spikes, hospitality; Patsy Dunlap, luminaries; Paula Bowen and Janice Edge, activities and wall of tribute; Syrena Duffel, Southern Bank, accounting; Bill and Darlene Hetler, logistics/decorations; Tony Bunch, Karen Wallace, Ruth Keith, helpers; Tina Matheny, program book; Keri House, ACS area manager; Sherry Mitchell, ACS program representative.

Each year a cancer survivor from each town is chosen to represent their community as an honorary survivor. This year's honorary survivors were Patsy Crews, Caraway; Mary Robertson, Lake City: John Kisner, Black Oak; Helen Winstead, Manila; Jerry Bates, Leachville; Debra "Debbie" Sexton, Monette.

Matheny said the Relay for Life is the grand finale of weeks of events, meetings, and fund-raising activities.

This year marked the ninth Buffalo Island Relay for Life. This year's Relay was named in memory of Ronnie Horner who had been a member of the steering committee since its beginning in 2002. Mr. Horner died Feb. 22. He was already working on this year's Relay.

"The Relay for Life touches people's lives," Matheny said.

She shared a story about how a few seconds can make a difference in someone's life.

"Last year on June 26, when we were preparing for the Luminary Ceremony to start, a young boy was behind the stage talking with us," Matheny said. "He kept asking if his mother's name was in the book. By that time the ceremony had started and the readers had begun to read the names in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of those who have lost their battle. The readers don't know all of the names on the list as it is prepared by other committee members.

"The young boy just kept asking if his mother's name was in that book. One of our readers took the time to stop and ask him his mother's name. He gave her the name and she took time to write it down in the "In Honor of" book and the little boy was so excited. He wanted to hear his mother's name read aloud the night of Relay. I am go glad that Sheila Spurlock took the time to stop and talk to the young boy and add the name. A week and a half later that young boy lost his mother to cancer. This has been on my mind a lot just thinking of that little boy. It was a big thing for him to hear his mother's name be read. It only took a few seconds to make a big difference in that young boy's life. Relay for Life touches everyone's life in some way. After all, it's about the community that takes up the fight."

Relay for Life is the American Cancer society's signature event. It started in 1985 with one person, Gordon Klatt, of Tacoma, Wash., raising $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. The following year 340 supporters joined Dr. Klatt in the overnight event.

Trophies were awarded in several categories.

Winners are:

Best Campsite -- Kay's 50s Classic Rodder's Diner, first place; Nifty Fifties, first runner-up; Heritage Hippies and Mikey's Prevention Picketers, second runner-up; Tammy and Drake's Hospitality Tent, honorable mention.

Best Team Spirit -- Heritage Hippies and Mikey's Prevention Picketers, first place; Nifty Fifties, first runner-up; and New Harmony 1920s Untouchables, second runner-up.

Spirit Stick -- Southern Belles and Beaus, first place; Kay's 50s Classic Rodder's Diner, first runner-up; Nifty Fifties, second runner-up.

Best Grub -- New Harmony 1920s Untouchables, first place (grilled corn and fried onions); Manila United Methodist's Ronnie's Rascals (Frito chili pie), first runner-up; Kay's 50s Classic Rodder's Diner (beans and cornbread), second runner up.

Most money raised in a single event -- Leachville Methodist Church and Sonshine Sunday School Class, first place; Manila Family Music Show/Rebound Band and Backward Boys, first runner-up; Groovy Southerners, second runner-up.

Overall winner in fundraiser -- Heritage Hippies and Mikey's Prevention Picketers.

Additional entertainment included teams performing songs from their decade. Winner was the Heritage Bank with Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You Babe." It was a tie for second place with Kay's Classic Rodders' Hand Jive and New Harmony 1920s Charleston.

Doug Masters of Arbyrd provided the music throughout the event.

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