Sampson’s Relay to be revamped, revitalized

Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

January 9, 2014

Sampson County’s Relay for Life is kicking off the new year by taking stock of last year’s event, plus focusing on the future fundraising for 2014. New faces have emerged in connection with the annual event and Sherry Massey, the chairwoman for the event, said she is looking forward to having new people to work with. This year’s Relay for Life will be May 30-31.

“I am very excited,” said Massey. “This is my ninth year as a chair for this county.” Massey stressed that the event and planning could not be done without the support of everyone involved in the campaign. The group met at Grove Park Baptist Church on Tuesday night.

“It takes every one of us, both on committees and team captains,” stressed Massey.

“We have changes every year,” she added, nothing that some of the modifications will be significant compared to years past. A security team will address the needed changes as well as work on the logistics. The parking situation is expected to change, as well as the activities that are going on around the event. Massey said that there will be no more tailgating at the event starting this year.

They are also going to start locking of all the gates except one, which Massey said they can do since they do that at football games at Dark Horse Stadium. In addition to the gates being locked, no vehicles are going to be allowed in after 5 p.m. There will be Gators available to help load and unload during certain times from specific areas which are to be determined.

“Safety will be first and foremost,” she stressed. Massey said that the changes come from recommendations made from the 2013 attendees, and agreed by a security committee. Relocating caregiver bags, as well as the stationing of committee members during specific parts of the event, are two items that are going to be worked on as well.

“We want everyone to show respect in the bleachers,” said Massey. As this is still a work in progress, Massey said that the organizational time line for the event is still being worked on and that the committees will be meeting to further discuss the upcoming plans.

“This is dear to my heart, and also dear to yours as well,” said Massey to the group that had gathered Tuesday night to kick off Relay 2014.

“I had a wonderful 2013 year and I am looking forward to a wonderful 2014 year,” she emphasized.

Jason Abernathy, with the American Cancer Society, is going to be the representative that will be covering the Sampson County area. He said he was new on the scene for Sampson.

“I have cancer survivors in my family, and I have been with ACS for seven years, said Abernathy, a senior Relay manager whose turf includes Wilmington and Myrtle Beach.

He stressed that consistency was key to him, and that he plans on being on the staff for the long term. He enjoys not being behind a desk he said, and that he and his team are ready to step up and be a part of this county’s Relay. He said that his goal is to support in any way that he can.

Brooke Nagy, who works with Abernathy, is from Jacksonville, and she will also be working with him for Sampson’s Relay. She became involved with ACS after her little brother was diagnosed with brain cancer at 13. At the time she was working at an oncologist’s office as an intern, and she was able to use her expertise in the area to help her parents. At one point, she said, the doctors for her brother threw up their hands and told her family there was nothing else that they could do. Her brother can no longer play sports, but she says that he makes the best of every situation.

Going through this with her brother has made her decide to help out and work with the ACS. Nagy expressed a desire to stay active and engaged, making her relationship with the area a long and prosperous one.

The Sampson County Relay for Life is listed as being 20th in the South Carolina and North Carolina district, said Abernathy.

“Relay fuels the engine to save lives,” said Abernathy. This year’s goal for Sampson Countyis to raise $215,000. Opportunities to raise money are available online, and teams can be registered online as well.

For more information about Sampson County’s Relay for Life, contact Sherry Massey at or call her at 910-385-5160.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at