by Madison V. Fisler
June 4, 2014. On Tuesday, June 3, Relay for Life of Watauga County hosted the annual Survivors’ Dinner at Greenway Baptist Church in Boone. Starting at 6 p.m., survivors and their loved ones filtered into the church and made their way to their seats in the spacious room, stopping along the way of offer hugs, smiles and greetings to their friends.
Hundreds of survivors and their loved ones from all walks of life filled the room during this annual event that honors survivors and commemorates their fight, while offering support for the loved ones that went through the battle with them. Volunteers lined the outskirts of the room, offering luminaria, t-shirts and brochures.
The dinner was catered by Outback Steakhouse, a longtime supporter of Relay for Life, and volunteers from the restaurant dished out plates heaped with chicken or steak, sides and of course, carrot cake for dessert.
Following the meal, Relay volunteers welcomed Corrie Freeman to the podium for the night’s keynote speech.
Last May, Freeman, a teacher at Hardin Park Elementary School, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and underwent treatment for her diagnosis. Throughout the duration of her treatment, Freeman was resolved to see things in a positive light.
Instead of looking at the things cancer can’t do, I made a list of things cancer can do, Freeman said.
She spoke of her students and how they accepted and loved her for who she was, even when she lost all of her hair, eyelashes and most of her eyebrows during the course of her treatment. She spoke about how cancer can make you laugh, mentioning a humerus anecdote about her treatment. In her lengthy list of things that cancer can do, Freeman only spoke positively.
Freeman concluded her speech with a phrase of triumph to a round of applause.
“I am proud to say that I am currently cancer-free!” she said.
The fourth grade teacher spoke about her students and how much strength they gave her.
Next, Hugh and Sue Tilson, who organized the local chapter of the American Cancer Society more than 30 years ago, were honored at the banquet. Glenda Hodges recognized the duo in front of the crowd and thanked them for all they have done for the organization.
After the speakers, the evening turned to the candlelight closing.
Relay for Life volunteers came to the podium carrying candles. While lighting the candles, co-chair Brian Barker read a poem about hope. After the volunteers lit their candles, they made their way around the room lighting the candles of everyone present.
After all the candles were lit, the gathering held a few moments of silence in a short candlelight closing that brought a hush over the crowd. At the conclusion of the evening, Barker reminded everyone once again about the Relay for Life event which will take place at Watauga High School on Friday, June 20.
Check out the photos of last nights event.
Photos by Madison V. Fisler