DUBLIN — The annual fundraising campaign for the 2014 Bladen County Relay for Life got off to a “roaring” start on Tuesday evening at Lu Mil Vineyard.
The main event will take place on May 2, 2014, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Elizabethtown Middle School athletic field. The committee chose Katy Perry's song “Roar” as their anthem and the theme unveiled on Tuesday night for this year's teams is “Wild About a Cure.”
Michelle Fisher, Bladen County Relay for Life event chairman, welcomed everyone to the kick off event and reminded folks “why we Relay.”
“I want to say thank-you to each survivor for being here tonight. You are our inspiration. You are here with us because you are a champion,” said Fisher, echoing the words of Perry's song.
The fundraising goal set for 2014 is $110,000. Last year's goal was $95,000 and it was surpassed when Relay for Life raised more than $127,000. All money goes toward cancer research in the hope of finding a cure.
“We saw tremendous growth in everything last year,” said Fisher. “Everything grew, grew, grew.”
Fisher encouraged the group to use last year's success as a springboard to make this year's event even more successful.
As of Tuesday night, 19 teams had registered for the event. The goal is to have 50 teams registered by May, said Fisher. Team captains can still register their teams online at the Bladen County Relay for Life website.
The guest speaker for the evening was Jason Abernathy, senior manager for Relay for Life. He spent five years as a volunteer and seven years on the American Cancer Society staff. Prior to that he worked at a Chic-Fil-A restaurant near Hickory.
“Someone came to the counter and asked me to volunteer,” said Abernathy of how he became involved. “I started volunteering and helping by providing food for different things.”
He said he soon began inquiring about different positions and soon found himself as community manager over four counties in the western part of North Carolina before moving to the Wilmington office.
“I lost an aunt to leukemia and I have a cousin who is a breast cancer survivor,” said Abernathy.
He told the group when he first started working with Relay, the cancer survival rate was 1 in 3 now it is 2 out of three, and the goal is to reach 3 out of 3 surviving.
Haley Hall sang Martina McBride's “I'm Gonna Love You Through It” during the luminary ceremony.
Awards were also handed out Tuesday. Jean Lloyd received the Heart of Relay award while the Spirit of Relay Award went to Lisbon Baptist Church and the Community Impact Award was given to Dublin School.