Archived Story

Relay brings hope

Published 11:22pm Friday, May 16, 2014

A little rain wasn’t enough to stop the Relay For Life, with hundreds of participants joining the fight against cancer at Bennett’s Creek Park on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

According to the event website, 67 teams and 742 participants have raised more than $123,000 so far for the American Cancer Society.

At Bennett’s Creek Park on Friday with Brayden Fusco, 5, his great-nephew, hoisted atop his shoulders, Mark James, whose sister survived cancer, participates in the Survivors’ Lap of the Relay for Life.
At Bennett’s Creek Park on Friday with Brayden Fusco, 5, his great-nephew, hoisted atop his shoulders, Mark James, whose sister survived cancer, participates in the Survivors’ Lap of the Relay for Life.

Heather Howell, chair of the event, hailed the city of Suffolk for helping organizers keep the event on track despite a deluge overnight Thursday, describing it as “super supportive.”

“It was a tough morning, because I thought we were going to be shut down,” Howell said. “But in true Suffolk fashion, the committee pulled together — and we are here to relay.”

As always, cancer survivors kicked off the Relay with the Survivors’ Lap. They set off around the course in a spirit of solidarity against a killer over which they all have triumphed.

Liz Hopkins of Team Riverfront, in third place among teams for fundraising with $1,855, according to the website, behind Subway with $2,400 and Warren’s Warriors with $4,852, described cancer having hit several members of her family alongside friends and neighbors.

“When that all happened, we decided that we needed to do something productive to help fight back,” Hopkins said.

“My husband’s brother was just diagnosed with prostate cancer — that’s why we keep doing it.”

Averi Pino, marching with husband Max and their children, Kalee, 11, “Bear,” 8, and Abbi, 2, battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma while her husband was “in and out of deployment” with the military.

“I went into remission in October 2009, praise God,” she said. “It means a lot to see the awareness out there. That is the most important part to me.”

As a child, Eric Pulley, another survivor, battled acute lymphatic leukemia, and then leukemia. He said he has been in remission for 20 years.

“It makes me feel good,” Pulley said of the Relay’s strong turnout, adding that he aims to inspire those walking where he has trodden.

“Hopefully they can see me, and what I have been able to accomplish, and get inspiration from that,” he said.

Addressing the crowd before the survivors and then other participants set out, Mayor Linda T. Johnson struck a hopeful tone.

“We want to beat this disease,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure we can do what we can to help ourselves stay healthy.”

Delegate Chris Jones cited the ever-improving odds of surviving cancer — a “one-in-two” chance “back in the 70s,” and a “seven-in-ten” chance today.

He described his own mother’s life being taken, telling participants, “I know what inspires you is their memory.”

  • westyjoe

    Although the cause is very good, the way this event was conducted was rude. Blaring music all night long keeping thousands of neighbors awake is not a good way to gain support for a cause as important as this. They ignored requests from the police after receiving hundreds of complaints. I will be pushing my councilman to never allow this event here again without agreement to cut off the noise after 10pm.

    Suggest Removal

    • Gingy

      Obviously you read the paper online; perhaps you missed Wednesday’s article, “Relay Entertainment Set.” They scheduled a deejay, lip sync contests, games, and more. This is a once-yearly event, permitted by the City – endorsed by the City! It occurred on a Friday night, no less. It is for a great cause! Get over it.

      Suggest Removal

      • HokieFarm

        Then you won’t mind hosting this event in your neighborhood next year. Good cause or not, it was absolutely ridiculous having this event at a park surrounded by neighborhoods with more than 1,000 homes. This event needs to be moved to a different location away from so many homes or cut off at 10:00 PM. I, too, am asking City Council to support the event but help them find a more appropriate location to hold it. There’s a reason why the City has a noise ordinance and it is usually applied to City events, such as TGIF, which is held in the same location and causes no problems because it shuts down at 10:00 in accordance with City code. Just because the cause is good doesn’t mean you throw out the rules and impact so many property owners.

        Suggest Removal

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