A celebration of life

Survivors began their Victory Lap around the track to kick things off at the 2015 Relay for Life for Sampson County at Clinton High School.

Cancer survivor Christy Detwiler, and husband Scott dance to beach music at Friday’s Relay for Life.

Jim Matthews welcoming guests to Relay for Life on Friday night.

Churches and other organizations cooking for guests on Friday. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

Balloon master, Carlton Smith twists balloons and creates all sorts of animals, characters, etc., for Relay guests on Friday at Clinton High School.

The rain clouds stayed away long enough for a beautiful Clinton night to host Sampson County’s Relay for Life on Friday night at Clinton High School.

The night is a chance for the entire community to come out and support those who have fallen to cancer, those who have beaten it, those who are currently fighting, and their caregivers. People of all ages joined together on a night of celebrating life.

The night began with the entrance of the Relay torch, then opening remarks by chairpersons Scott and Christy Detwiler. Honorary chairperson Jim Matthews then gave welcoming remarks as well. After the singing of the National Anthem by Miss Greater Sampson County, Emily Tucker, and a prayer, the Cancer Survivor Victory Walk took place.

The cancer survivors made their laps around the track with Katy Perry’s “Roar” playing through the speakers.

Various events were happening for entertainment throughout the evening, including a beach music band, and a pie cooking contest.

At 8:30, each team gathered on the track for the Parade of Teams.

Following the Luminaries Ceremony at 9:45, and a prayer and musical performance, survivor, Gwen Lee gave a touching and encouraging speech.

Ashley Golden, the Community Manager for Relay for Life in the South Atlantic Division, stressed how important this event was to the community. “This is a chance for everyone to come together and show the cancer survivors and the family of those who have lost loved ones to the dreaded disease that people truly care,” said Golden. “We are thrilled with the turnout this year, and are so very thankful of all of the work that has gone on behind the scenes to make this once again possible this year.”

Among those who have made the event possible were the Detwilers, husband and wife. The two helped organize and emcee the event. Christy is a breast cancer survivor, which makes the event even more special to the both of them. “I had breast cancer, and tonight, as soon as I got here, I met a girl who currently has the same type of breast cancer that I had. It was so great to be able to talk to her and give her a hug and just encourage her. I feel like her alone is the reason that I’m here tonight and the reason that I ever had to go through the cancer process in the first place,” said Christy. “Battling the disease brought me even closer to God, and I am thankful for that, and everyone and everything that has gone into this event.”

Christy mentioned that the caregiver is also an important and underrated part of the cancer-treatment process. She said that her husband, Scott, was and still is, her “rock.”

“I do it for her,” said Scott. “Obviously I took care of her because she’s my wife, and what wouldn’t I do, but I help out here at Relay in her honor as well,” finished Detwiler.

Honorary chairman Jim Matthews spoke of how proud he was to still be a part of Relay. “I remember when this thing started in 1995, this is the twentieth year,” he said. “A good friend and co-worker of mine, Mark Brown started this event, and it has benefited so many people. Being a cancer survivor myself, it is great to see all of the support that this event has always got and is getting this year,” finished Matthews.

Carolyn Faircloth, another longtime Relay participant, says she can’t help but love the event. “Everyone here is just so upbeat for the most part, but you truly feel every emotion imaginable at this event. The entire vibe is so positive thought. The feeling is honestly infectious and I can’t get enough of this great event,” finished Faircloth.

In the 20th year of Relay, there were nearly 1,000 luminaries and around 75 torches. The amount of money raised was not known at press time.