Relay raises $24,000 for fight against cancer

STILL SURVIVING – Cancer survivors line up for the traditional first lap at the Copiah County Relay For Life Friday evening. Survivors are also honored at a reception preceding the Relay. The event took place at the Copiah County Fairgrounds this year, the first change of location since the local Relay began. The event was held at the county courthouse in Hazlehurst in past years.

The Copiah County Relay For Life moved to a new location this year, but some things never change. A strong base of committed volunteers continue to make the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event a success no matter where it is located.

The Copiah County teams raised $24,000 this year. The total was $23,986 according to the count Monday evening, but teams were still turning in funds at press time, according to volunteer Relay banker Cecilia Carlton.

Volunteers were pleased with their new location at the Copiah County Fairgrounds in Gallman. The dirt in the arena was softer on their feet than the pavement around the courthouse, according to the Relay team members who walked the laps.

“It was a safe environment, and all the kids were very well mannered,” reported Carlton. “We had the Crystal Springs JROTC come out, and a Beta Club. It was a really great time.”

There is only one way in and out of the fairgrounds, so the Relay committee was able to provide enhanced security this year. The covered arena – which is usually used for rodeos, livestock and equestrian events – provided some protection from the elements as well, an added bonus that damp Friday evening.

But the lights in the arena could not be dimmed for the luminary lighting ceremony, so that part of the Relay was not quite as dramatic as in past years, Carlton pointed out.

The luminaries, which represent cancer victims and are provided through donations from their loved ones, surround the Relay track and are lit after the sun goes down, in what many people feel is the most moving part of the Relay.

Carlton said they will probably think of another way to handle that ceremony next year so that the luminaries make a greater impression in the dark evening.

But overall the Relay in its new location has been declared a success. The committee plans a return to the county fairgrounds for the event next spring.

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