ELIZABETHTOWN — Cancer got another kick in the gut this past weekend, when Bladen County Relay for Life held its annual Relay for Life “Paint Your World Purple” Walk at Elizabethtown Middle School on Saturday.
“Overall, it went well,” said Relay co-chair Mandy Padrick. “Of course, we would always welcome and need more money, but the day was a success.”
The event kicked off at 11 a.m. and, for the first time, participants witnessed the full effect of the 12-hour change. Last year’s walk was the first one to last only 12 hours, but it was a last-minute reschedule, so this year’s half-day, action-packed event was the first time Padrick thought that they were able to really show off what the change was like.
The kids’ walk, led by two children in Bladen County dealing with cancer, and the kids’ activities — such as a hula hoop contest and magical chairs — received good participation.
The highlight of the day, as expected by the organizers, was the Luminaria Ceremony. Anyone so desiring could purchase a luminaria in honor or in memory of someone, and all of those names, one by one, were read during the ceremony.
“Everyone usually likes the Luminaria Ceremony the best,” said Padrick. “We get a lot of comments about how great it is, I think, because we read off each individual name.”
More than $15,000 was raised on site, and that money will be added to the $62,000 already raised before the event started.
“We’re still waiting on some teams to turn in their money,” said Padrick, “so we still expect to take in quite a bit more. It’s very likely that we can still meet our goal.”
Padrick reported that their goal was $115,000 — $5,000 more than the $110,000 they raised last year.
The group plans to survey participants to determine whether or not they stick with the 12-hour schedule.
“Even when we had the 24-hour event, a lot of people showed up for the luminaries,” said Padrick, “so most of our money is generally raised during a six-hour bracket.”
Money raised from the walk goes to the American Cancer Society, which uses the funds for local people in need of services such as hair replacement, transportation to and from chemotherapy or radiation, housing for people staying overnight for the same services, and grants for cancer research.
Even though the event is winding down and final numbers being calculated, the group is not resting.
“Summer is usually the slowest time for Relay for Life, but we’re working on a few things. We’re trying to get some things going with local businesses to keep the cause active in people’s minds through the summer,” stated Padrick.
Anyone interested in continuing to support Relay for Life can, Padrick said, hold an event such as a yard sale or a restaurant fundraiser like the ones often conducted by schools. Additional information, including contact numbers, may be found on the Relay for Life of Bladen County web page.
“We’re already looking forward to next year, and hope people will continue to support it,” said Padrick.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.