Young, old, come out to celebrate life after cancer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2007

Nearly 150 people gathered in the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church in Greenville Friday for a celebration.

These men and women, black and white, young and old, from all walks of life, came to celebrate their victory over cancer as the days count down to Butler County's Relay For Life for 2007.

Friday's event was the annual Cancer Survivors' Luncheon. Priester's Pecans provided the meal of chicken salad, fresh fruit and tropical cheesecake - a fitting choice to go along with this year's RFL theme, &#8220Cruisin' for a Cure.”

Cancer survivors present were all given a special purple and white survivor's T-shirt, courtesy of Priester's, which they were encouraged to wear for Relay next Friday night.

Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden assured the survivors a special parking area close to the YMCA football field

would be provided for them.

&#8220We have these special parking passes made up for you. Just pick one up before you leave and we will take care of you next Friday night. If you need any help that night, just come see me or one of my deputies,” Harden said.

RLF Chair Joan Reynolds also encouraged survivors to join board members in their Relay tent, which will be located near the stage.

&#8220You can bring a covered dish if you like, and bring a chair. We are always short of those. Just know we would love to have you,” Reynolds said.

Harlan Burton returned to the luncheon to entertain the survivors and their caregivers.

Burton, a polished performer who has sung at the White House for the Bushes, shared his own story of surviving a bout with colon cancer a few years ago.

&#8220Each day I wake up and I thank God I'm still alive,” Burton said.

The vocalist's selection of soothing inspirational tunes such as &#8220Faith Unlocks the Door” and &#8220One Day at a Time” brought nods and a few tears from his audience, while up-tempo songs such as &#8220I Saw the Light” had folks up on their feet, clapping and singing along.

&#8220I dedicate this one as a ministry to all of you cancer survivors,” Burton said before performing &#8220See How Far I've Come.”

He closed with a powerful performance of &#8220Midnight Cry” that drew a standing ovation.

&#8220Keep in mind, Harlan does this for us for free. Isn't he great?” said event co-organizer Linda Holley, who worked with two long-time volunteers and cancer survivors, Caroline Ryan and Vivian Killingsworth, to put together this year's event.

&#8220I saw a lot of familiar old faces again this year, but I also see a lot of new ones with us. We are so glad to have you all with us,” Holley said.

&#8220My mother is a cancer survivor of 51 yearsŠshe is doing great today.”

The ACS Relay For Life will kick off at the Y football field next Friday, May 11, with opening ceremonies slated for 6:30 p.m.

The event sponsor is Wal-Mart of Greenville.

For more information, contact Joan Reynolds at 303-9999,