Relay celebrates survivors

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Every year, Suffolk’s Relay for Life sets out to raise money for cancer research, but they spend one night celebrating survivors at the Survivor’s Reception at the Planters Club.

In years past, they had an outdoor dinner to celebrate, but a few year ago they moved the reception indoors.

“We didn’t have to deal with the weather or bugs,” said Event Lead Dana DeFreeuw. “It was also more fun, because the committee got to enjoy the dinner and the survivors.”

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Survivors will receive gifts throughout the evening, such as “swag bags” and door prizes. There will also be dinner and entertainment.

“There will be an orchestra playing in the background music, and a gentleman will be coming to make balloon animals,” DeFreeuw said.

The reception will follow the same theme as the rest of the Relay. They plan on decorating the Planters Club as a carnival rather than with the traditional purple.

Mason’s Grill will be catering the event, and the dinner feature a healthy menu — though survivors will get a cupcake for dessert.

The survivors will also have the chance to listen to Crystal Harper speak at the reception. Harper is a meteorologist for Channel 13, and she is also a cancer survivor.

The reception is an important piece of Relay, because it gives the survivors a chance to celebrate.

“I think it is an important aspect of Relay, because most of Relay is to help raise funds to find a cure,” DeFreeuw said. “Each year we have more and more survivors, and it shows we are making progress. It is something we want to celebrate.”

Survivors that register for the reception are allowed to bring one caregiver with them. The caregiver is usually their spouse, sister or brother, and it’s a time to acknowledge the caregiver as well.

The reception is one of the first celebrations that Relay for Life does for survivors. Survivors also walk the first lap during the actual Relay for Life event, and survivors will be honored during the luminaria ceremony.

If survivors wish to register for the reception, they can contact Dana DeFreeuw at or 619-5465. The event will be at the Planters Club, 4600 Planters Club Road, from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 9.

Suffolk’s Relay for Life has raised $41,045 of its $150,000 goal with less than 30 days to go. Suffolk’s Relay will be at 6 p.m. on May 18 at Nansemond River High School.