County effort raises 113K to fight cancer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It's been said it takes a village to raise a child.

Last Friday night, it took a countywide effort to raise funds in the continued fight against cancer.

With a goal of $100,000, the Butler County Chapter of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life reached and exceeded that number in 2006.

&#8220We raised nearly $113,000, which is just phenomenal,” Juanita Poole, sponsorship chairman said on Monday.

&#8220Relay Round Up” was a mix of old and new. Perennial event emcee Ralph Stacy and deejay Bill Campbell returned, with Wal-Mart again serving as 2006 Event Sponsor.

However, the event location – the Greenville YMCA – and several teams and sponsorships were new to Relay this year.

&#8220The Y was just a great place for Relay. For the first time we had a real stage, instead of a flatbed truck, thanks to CorStone, our new stage sponsor,” Poole said.

Joan Reynolds, chairman of both the Butler County Chapter of the American Cancer Society and its Relay For Life, concurs with Poole.

&#8220I thought it was one of the best Relays we've had. The weather cooperated and the new location was certainly accommodating,” Reynolds said.

&#8220It proved to be exactly what we needed for emcees, musicians and performers. The playground already being there kept the children busy while other activities were being played.”

Greenville Motor Company served as the new Cancer Control Activities Sponsor, offering a wide array of literature on cancer treatment and prevention.

The car dealership was just one of 37 teams from across the county assembled at the football field that night. The hundreds who came enjoyed a variety of activities as they raised awareness of cancer prevention, treatment, and the continued need for more research.

It was a new team, the &#8220Snowdrifters” from Dr. Everett Snow's dental office in Greenville, which took home the coveted Spirit of Relay Trophy.

Other winners included Wal-Mart as both the top fund-raising team and the top fundraising team per capita. First place winner for teams up to 15 in number was First Lowndes Bank; second place went to Damascus Baptist Church and third place to D.J.'s Diner of Georgiana.

For teams with 16-30 members, Sandcutt Community took first place; People's Bank earned second place and L. V. Stabler Memorial Hospital took third place honors.

Wal-Mart was the winner for teams of 31-plus members. In school teams, Greenville Middle School took first place honors, while Greenville Elementary earned the second place award.

Many door prizes donated by local merchants were given out to the winners in competitions ranging from hula hooping to &#8220steer” roping. Participants of all ages enjoyed group dances to favorites such as &#8220The Hokey Pokey” and &#8220The Electric Slide.”

&#8220It was just wonderful to look out over that crowd and see all those people having such a good time…and they were very well behaved. When they needed to be quiet, they were quiet,” Poole said.

Peace and quiet did prevail during the Luminaria Ceremony, during which local ministers read the names of those who had lost their battle with cancer to whom luminarias had been dedicated (the names of luminaria survivors will be published in an upcoming edition of the paper).

&#8220There are over 700 bags out there,” Ethelyn Watson, luminaria chairman, pointed out Friday night as the glow of the flames cast a soft light on the field.

Later, &#8220tickle boxes” were turned over by the piece de resistance of the evening, the annual womanless beauty pageant.

Trip &#8220Mustang Sally” Richardson took the tiara as &#8220Miss” Relay 2006. The pint-sized contestant raised the most funds from the crowd.

&#8220Yes, folks, we let them buy their title,” Stacy joked before giving the top three contestants buckets and sending them into the audience on a fund-raising blitz.

Other major sponsors for the county's RFL were International Paper Company (Luminaria Sponsor); Whitney National Bank ((Team Sponsor); REF Alabama, Inc. (Entertainment Sponsor) and Priesters' Pecans (Survivors' Sponsor).

More than 40 other businesses and individuals also sponsored the event, donating almost $33,000 toward the goal through their efforts alone, Poole said.

Reynolds sees the support given to the annual event as just one more sign of Butler County's consistent generosity.

&#8220Thanks go out to all our sponsors and teams for their support and to the YMCA for the attentiveness to all we needed to make this a great Relay For Life,” Reynolds said.