Tonight the torch will make its way into Dark Horse Stadium once again, the beacon of hope that has become the trademark of Sampson County’s Relay for Life.
Entry of the torch, which has already made its way through Clinton’s streets and held a position at the annual Survivors’ Dinner, marks the beginning of the annual event designed to heighten awareness of cancer’s grasp on our family, friends and neighbors and to raise needed money for continued research that we all pray will come sooner now rather than later.
This community has always been a tremendous supporter of Relay, raising well over a million dollars since its beginnings back in the early 1990s.
And while support of — and to some degree interest in — the annual event has waned in the past few years, many people still believe in its goals, still want to show their support of the cause, cancer’s victims and its survivors and still make the trek to Clinton High to participate in some portion of the night’s activities.
In fact, last year alone, close to $120,000 was raised, a goal organizers are hoping will be met and even surpassed when all the funds are counted later tonight and in the morning.
That is our hope as well.
We know this community, and we know the giving hearts of its members. Just as importantly, we know how deep cancer’s reach has stretched into our towns, taking from us friends and loved ones at a far too rapid pace. We also have seen the courageous battles of those who are dealing with the disease today, knowing their struggles and understanding that our support, words of encouragement and participation in a cause far greater than ourselves matters.
It is because of each of them that we urge support of tonight’s Relay in a big way. Fill the stands, buy a luminary or two, help out a team raising money. Do it because you know that every dollar raised will land in a place where research continues and where, one day, someone will discover the cure we all long for.
But participation is about far more than raising money. It’s about our presence and the giving of one’s time. For cancer survivors making that lap around the stadium tonight, hearing the roar of a crowd cheering them on, seeing them applauding their fight shows them that they aren’t in this fight alone. It gives them hope and, in many cases, the tenacity to keep trying, even when they are battle worn from the chemo and the radiation and the constant trek to doctor’s visits.
For the loved ones of those who cancer took away, a sea of smiling faces brings comfort and a lifting of one’s spirit.
We know there are many activities one can participate in tonight; we know people are busy living their own lives but taking an hour to head over to Clinton High’s stadium to show your support will mean more than one can imagine.