Note: This story appear in the Wednesday, Aug. 14 newspaper on Page A1.
JACKSON — Relay For Life of Jackson County this year was small but mighty. In recent years, Relay has been in a decline; however, there is still hope to rebuild.
Cancer survivors and their caregivers, along with a few relay teams and the community, gathered at the Jackson Middle School Track on Saturday, Aug. 10.
In 2016, Relay had moved from Jackson to Wellston, but this year it moved back home to the county seat. Relay in Jackson County was started in the 1990s.
This year, citizens of Jackson County once again helped raise a sum of money for the American Cancer Society (ACS), with the committee bringing in a total of $31,038.05.
The Relay For Life event consisted of many activities throughout the evening.
Relay got underway with the Little Miss and Mister contest being held on the stage. There were a total of four participants, two boys, and two girls.
Lily Swartz, of Wellston, was named Little Miss Relay. She is the 7-year-old daughter of Shawn and Kim Swartz.
Brooks Sickles, of Jackson, was named Little Mister Relay. He is the 5-year-old son of Amanda and Russell Sickles.
Around 6 p.m., the opening ceremonies were held on the stage. This included a welcome speech given by Relay Organizer Deanna Bragg-Boggs; a prayer by John Pelletier and the lighting of the torch by 78-year-old Judith Mahoney, of Jackson (See related story).
During the ceremonies, a couple of special awards were announced.
The first award announced was the 2019 Patricia Howell Community Award. The award was established in 2016 in honor of Howell, who is a two-time cancer survivor and retired executive director of the American Cancer Society (ACS).
The award was established in her name to honor her dedication to the ACS, and for all the work she has done for the community in the face of cancer and cancer research. Receiving the award this year was Bellisio Foods of Jackson.
The second award announced was the 2019 Lady Baesman Spirit of the American Cancer Society Award. Baesman, 82, died on Friday, March 1, 2013. She was a breast cancer survivor who exemplified what it meant to be a volunteer and leader in the fight against cancer. The award was created to recognize those who exemplify volunteerism through cancer education, advocating for cancer patients and community involvement.
Receiving the award this year was longtime volunteer Bragg-Boggs. In recent years, she has stepped up to be one of the main local organizers and leaders of Relay. She has also been a member, leader or co-leader of three different Relay teams: Enchanted Florist, The In-Laws and Outlaws and Hope Floats.
Bragg-Boggs was surprised to receive the award. She stated that “cancer sucks,” and encouraged others to join the Relay committee or to form a Relay Team in hopes to build the event back up.
After opening ceremonies, the survivor’s lap was held with all cancer survivors and their caregivers at the event taking a lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while being cheered on by the other participants who lined the track.
Once the sun went down, the luminaria ceremony took place. This allowed participants to remember people who have lost their battle with cancer, while at the same time honoring those who have fought cancer in the past and support those whose fight continues. Candles were lit inside of personalized bags and placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes.
A silence lap with people carrying a candle around the track was held as well.
The rest of the evening featured live music, with Relay wrapping up at 11:30 p.m. or so.
Be sure to visit vintonjacksoncourier.com for more photos from the event.