When Christy Detwiler began her fight against breast cancer in 2009, she never imagined the Sampson County Relay for Life would become an outlet that brings love and support to the many who are or have been fighting the terrible disease.
Detwiler, along with many other survivors and their families, will take part in an annual celebration Saturday, as the 2016 Relay for Life events kick off at the first part of the torch walk and survivor’s dinner.
The Relay for Life Survivors Dinner will be held Saturday, May 21, at the Christian Family Life Center at 5 p.m. According to Rhonda Lockamy, event coordinator, the annual dinner gives survivors a chance to get together on one accord and offer comfort and guidance to others who have experienced the battle with cancer.
“The survivors get the chance to come and talk with other survivors and celebrate with them,” Lockamy said. “You have cancer survivors sitting around sharing their stories with each other.”
That’s the exact reason Detwiler gave for attending, during last year’s walk and dinner.
“It’s a wonderful day of fellowship and supporting one another,” said Detwiler, during last year’s dinner. “Cancer is a scary diagnoses. When you’re going through it or when you overcome it, you need each other.”
The survivor’s dinner is free to every cancer survivor and one guest. Lockamy said there are normally around 200 in attendance. Those wishing to attend do not need to register before the event.
The theme for this year’s dinner is “A Night at the Beach.” The dinner will feature a variety of entertainment, including Bruce Creech. Lisa Giddeons Whitfield will share her testimony with those in attendance. Door prizes will also be given out.
According to Lockamy, the dinner for Saturday night consists of ham, potatoes, string beans, roll and cake.
Saturday’s event will begin with the first half of the torch walk. At 1 p.m., survivors and their families are asked to meet at the Oncology Center on Beaman Street to walk with the torch to the church, where the torch will stay until the Friday night of the Relay for Life event at Clinton High School. The torch will then be walked from the church into the Dark Horse Stadium.
Through the Relay for Life, Detwiler said the event gives participants the opportunity to connect with each other. Each year, more than 4 million people raise money to help patients and to raise awareness across the country, with thousands participating in Sampson, alone. The American Cancer Society serves as the parent organization for the effort.
“We’ve become a family,” Detwiler said at last year’s dinner. “We’ve met some wonderful people and we support each other. We just help each other through this fight. That’s what it is; it’s a fight for your life.”
Ashley Golden, a community manager for Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society, said having such events allows for community members to unite for the cause.
“It allows our survivors and caregivers to know that they’re not alone in this battle,” she said. “People are going through the same experiences and it kind of makes them feel a little stronger to know that they’re not alone.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.