ELIZABETHTOWN — Those ready for an evening of having their whims catered to will have that opportunity Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Valentine’s Gala being put on to benefit Relay for Life. The semi-formal to formal event, being held at 6 p.m. at Living Springs Church on U.S. 701 South in Elizabethtown, is the first of its kind in Bladen County.
Co-captain of Bladen County Relay for Life Agnes Willis said, “We’ve never had anything like this, but it was just something I wanted to do in Bladen County. Other events had been done, but not a formal gala or banquet.”
Willis and Mary Carter, captain of Bladen County Relay for Life, hope to create an atmosphere of relaxation at the gala.
“We’re going to try to create gift bags for everyone walking in the door, and they will be greeted at the door,” Mary Carter said. “We’re trying to set a good atmosphere. Someone will be seating them at a table, and we have young high school people helping out that night. Part of their job would be that if (attendees) need anything, they will be taken care of.”
The women also hope to raise awareness and educate people about cancer. Carter, whose sister passed away from breast cancer in 2009, was inspired through that ordeal to get involved and raise awareness about the disease, stating that education is one of the greatest needs facing Relay for Life.
“People really need to be educated on how to get early detection and how to do breast self exams, and Relay for Life is a national event that brings out awareness,” she said. “I’m always surprised by how many people don’t know what Relay for Life does.”
On a national level, Relay for Life, the fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society, is involved predominantly in researching a cure for cancer. On a local level, they provide housing when families and patients go to surgery, provide housing for families who are going back forth to a site for chemotherapy or awaiting test results, provide transportation and hair replacement services, and are involved with counseling and support groups.
The need for the services provided by Relay for Life is widespread.
“There’s probably not a family that’s not affected by cancer, so the harder we work, the quicker we will get a cure,” Carter said.
Willis, too, was inspired to get involved after the death of someone close to her.
“I know the financial toll it takes on people when they have to go to and fro with chemotherapy,” he said. “It was very taxing.”
That empathy has led both ladies to step up fundraising in Bladen County, which is where the gala comes in. As a team, Carter and Willis have set a goal of $3000, and have already seen proceeds come in from some local businesses. Hoping to make the gala an annual event, they are looking for team members, business sponsors, and individual sponsors to get involved and raise money.
Tickets cost $30, meal included, and all of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
Anyone wishing to get involved may call Mary Carter at 910-991-6325 or Agnes Willis at 910-316-8408. Tickets may be obtained by calling the same numbers or by visiting radio station WBLA on Peanut Plant Road.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 862-4163.