Help make Relay strong again

Over the course of two dozen or more years, Relay for Life has been a vital part of Sampson County, with its supporters raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for continued cancer research that has helped to put a dent in the disease that has taken the lives of our families, friends and neighbors.

For residents here, Relay has always been uniquely personal and yet wholeheartedly community, and the end result has always been a massive amount of support for the people whose lives have, in one way or another, been touched by cancer.

Let’s face it, Sampson County has had more than its fair share of cancer diagnosis over the course of those same years, a fact that made a powerful event that much more so. Who can forget the determined looks on the faces of cancer survivors taking that first lap around the Clinton High School track, their supporters in tow, or families of those we know and care about standing together admiring the lighted luminaries bearing the names of lost loved ones, many who had participated through the years at our Relays.

While in recent years the events have been smaller and much quieter than the Relays of years past, they have been no less important nor the support any less heartfelt.

But it is our hope that this year, on June 1, the Sampson County Relay for Life will return to the gusto — and the crowd participation — of year’s past. We want people to help breath new life into an event that has brought energy and comradery to a community and given hope and a fighting spirit to those battling this awful disease.

The money raised each year is vital to the research that is necessary to one day win the battle that will mean a cancer-free world for our children and future generations.

And while this year’s goal of $125,000 might seem lofty to some, it is important to remember that this wonderful community has raised more than $3 million through Relay in the past couple decades. At the pinnacle of our community event’s heyday here, over $400,000 was raised during one event cycle, an amazing feat that put us in the the American Cancer Society’s upper echelon of fundraisers for that year.

It is an example of what this community can do to help others. And what we’ve done before, we can certainly do again. Relay and what it represents remains important, as does the awareness that the event continues to bring to a disease that continues to spread like an out-of-control wildfire in our midst. Nearly every day we hear of yet another person who has been told they must fight the battle.

The good news is the battles have become far more winnable and the stories of survivors living long, productive lives have started to grow.

We believe part of the reason is the money raised during Relays for Life across the country. That money allows the research that has brought earlier diagnosis, more powerful medicines and increased technology, all which is making a difference for those told they have cancer.

It is for that reason that we urge you to mark June 1 on your calendar and come on down to the Clinton High School track to become a part of something truly special, and to dig deep in your pockets and give to a cause that can and does make a difference in people’s lives.

Those who have supported Relay here believe in the difference they, and you, can make through this event. They also understand what we have said for over two decades now: Relay isn’t just about the money raised; it’s about the support a community gives to those fighting the battle. The luminaries, the gigantic banner of HOPE in the CHS stands, the raised arms and the warm hugs, all show the love of a community. It says we are with you and you don’t have to fight this battle alone.

It is for all those reasons that you to be a part of this year’s Relay, returning it to the truly community event it has often been.