The 2012 Pendleton County Relay For Life, hosted at Pendleton County High School Saturday in spite of a drenching thunderstorm, raised a little less than $50,000 for the American Cancer Society with more contributions still expected, event treasurer Cary Hevener said Sunday.
"Our silent auction of donated items was a record, bringing in $5,280. That was really great considering the weather," Hevener said.
"To put it into perspective, to date, Pendleton County has raised more than $800,000," Don Harris, event chairman, said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Joan Ashley
Autumn Smith, 15, and her friend, Faith Harper, 15, stand before a fight cancer pennant signed by her classmates and displayed at the Pendleton County Relay For Life 2012.
Anyone still wanting to make a donation this year can do so on line at www.relayforlife.org\pendletonwv, Harris added.
This year the Relay was conducted as a 24-hour event in honor of cancer fighters 5-year-old Kingsley Armstrong and Autumn Smith, 15, Harris said.
Smith described the Relay as a "great event."
"Even though I'm lucky and will likely be cured of this, others aren't so fortunate," Smith said. "We need this kind of fundraiser so people don't suffer and we find a cure. It may be a couple of years, but everything is possible."
The pouring rain soaked more than 1,700 luminary sacks which had to be rebagged and kept dry until time for the lighting ceremony.
At dusk, the luminaria were set up in a record 30 minutes by all the volunteers. It did not rain again until the ceremony was complete, Harris said.
The word "HOPE" was spelled out by the candlelit bags against a hill overlooking the luminaria-lined football field. The candle bags were changed to form the word "CURE" as "Amazing Grace" was performed by Vapor 4:14. Smith's name was spelled in luminaria on the football stands by Pendleton Community Bank employees who sold the most luminaria for Relay 2012.
During the Relay, more than 100 survivors were introduced and took a lap walking around the football field. Family and caregivers walked a second lap then joined the survivors for a reception sponsored by the Women of the Moose.
Smith's team, Pendleton Community Bank's Banking on a Cure, was named the highest single fundraiser for the event by raising $5,789.49. Her efforts were followed by Macie Clements of team Eradicators with $4,786 and third-place winner Grayson McCleaf of Eradicators with $1,380.
The Eradicators raised the most team money with $10,602 followed by PCBBC with $5,789.49 and Heart and Soles with $4,680.82.
Locally, donations are used to fund I Can Cope, an educational series on living with cancer; Reach to Recovery, which provides aid to women recovering from breast cancer; Man to Man, a support group for men with prostate cancer; Road to Recovery, transportation for ambulatory patients to cancer treatments; Look Good ... Feel Better, a workshop with volunteer cosmetologists to help enhance appearance; and Wigs and Prosthetics, available free of charge to cancer patients requesting them.
"Donations also helped local residents with fuel assistance, lodging and anti-nausea medication," Harris emphasized. "Locals only need to call 1-800-227-2345 or go to WWW.cancer.org to get assistance."
The Relay's planning committee included Linda Calhoun, team recruitment; Freida Calhoun, corporate sponsorship; Stephen House, Luminaria; Peggy Pitsenbarger, survivorship; Isaac Sponaugle, public relations; Regina Hedrick and Sean Kolman, logistics; Cathy Slusher and family, silent auction; Freda Calhoun, prize coordinator; Kathy Bennett and Holly Beachler, entertainment; Amy Minor, Preston Evick and Holly Rexrode, game coordinators; Tammy Cluter, website coordinaror; and Cary Hevener, aided by Nancy Mallow and helpers Anna Mauzy, Sharon Harr, Sue Harper and Daniel Davis, registration and finance.
Teams and team captains included PCB's Banking on a Cure, led by Holly Beachler and Beth Kirk; Eradicators, Leo Slusher; Heart and Soles, Mary Bowers; Jingle Bells, Ellen Mitchell and Cary Hevener; Sugar Grove Steppers, Brandi Bivins; Strike Out Cancer Gang, Pat Sites; Team Tweetie, Kim Kline; Uncle Sam's Scouts, Freda Calhoun; Hikin' for Hope, Debbie Judy; Pendleton Rehabinators, Inez Bogan; Team Tanner, Tanner Carr; Mountaineers: Climbing for a Cure, Maria Pomales; Team Piglet, Joyce Burgoyne; Flaming Walnuts, Jeanne Flinn; More Years, Ruth Moyers; Remission Possible, LeeAnn Shreve; and Unknown Dreamers, Kayla VanMeter.
Entertainment was provided by local entertainers Vapor 4:14, Grand Illusion Band, Bear Hill Blue Grass Band, Sugar Grove USN Band, Rusty West and DJ J.R. Murray. Mahala Alt sang the National Anthem while colors were paraded by the NOIC Sugar Grove Color Guard. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Boy Scout Troop 162, Franklin. Pastor Roger Gorby delivered the invocation.
Thirteen-year-old Hannah Warner sang an original song, "Fight," that she wrote in honor of her grandmother, Catherine Cook, a cancer survivor.
Other activities included a silent auction, a water balloon contest, an egg toss, a scavenger hunt, a greased watermelon contest and blind-folded musical chairs.
At midnight, the entire Relay gang moved to the Town Pool where they enjoyed a bathing suit contest, air mattress pile-on, belly flop contest, bronco busting pool rodeo and a ping pong ball scramble.
Pendleton County is one of 5,000 communities in 20 countries that has taken up the fight against cancer.
"We gathered together in this Relay to celebrate, remember, and fight back. We won't stop doing this," Harris said. "This is our 14th year, and, as the Cancer Society says, 'we won't stop until there is a cure!'"