by Madison V. Fisler
June 13, 2013. The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Watauga County will be held at Watauga High School in Boone beginning on Friday, June 14 and lasting through the night and into the morning of June 15. This annual fundraiser not only raises money for cancer reasearch, but also serves as a meeting point for supporters, survivors and caretakers and as a memorial to those who have already passed on.
This year, Relay for Life is spectacularly large event that consists of 36 teams raising money for the American Cancer Society. In this series, we will feature a few of the teams each day, in no particular order, up to the day of the event on June 14.
The Parkway Patriots are a team hailing from Parkway School comprised of 41 members, both students and adults, headed up by Jennifer Lacy. The members include Izzy Broman-Fulks, Ashley Capel, Abigail Cicman, Bailey Dodds, Robin Ebaugh, Rebecca Eggers, Foster Fowler, Travis Gillespie, Rivers Gore, Donna Gragg, Gary Gragg, Tammy Gragg, Billie Hicklin, Jacob Hoke, Brandon Holshouser, Temple Jones, Jessie King, Evan Lacy, Jon Lacy, Jon-Paul Lacy, Cinda McGuinn, Alberta Miller, Casey Moretz, Judd Pinnix, Bethany Pryor, Jackson Pryor, John Pryor, Kim Pryor, Brian Raichle, Donna Raichle, Kara Raichle, Logan Raichle, Kristina Shableski, Cathia Silver, Larissa Sterling, Susan Weinberg, Natalie Willis, Amber Yates and Ayla Yates.
The team has hosted many fundraisers to raise money for their campaign, including a “Make A Change” coin drive where each classroom collected coins for three weeks and classrooms with the highest totals won a cupcake party. Students collected a total of $510.50 and many children donated the entire contents of their piggy banks. They also held a student run Relay for Life School Store where they sold rRelay for life items such as pencils, bracelets, Patriot car decals, relay magnets, luminaria, cupcake notes and team memberships. In addition, the team encouraged donations from family, friends, former students and staff.
“In 2005, a small student group led by Laura Carson decided to form a Relay for Life team for Parkway School as a community project,” said team captain Jennifer Lacy.
“That year, one of the students in the group, Will Dicus, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The focus for the RFL team took on a whole new drive and meaning. The school rallied together in support of Will and the cause. Since then, Parkway School’s teams and support for Relay for Life have grown. In the past few years, Parkway School’s students, families, and staff have rallied around two teachers fighting the battle against cancer. The support within the school and the community has been amazing!”
The Chelsea Buffaloes of Valle Crucis is a team comprised of five members including long-time captain Jill Storelli, Serge Storelli, Roger Hahrd, Kincheloe Hahrd and Samantha Mahoney. This team, one of the original teams of the Watauga Relay for Life, has been participating in the event for 17 years.
“We are the buffaloes in honor of Bob Stone who was a cancer victim,” said captain Jill Storelli.
“He wrote a book called ‘Where the Buffaloes Roam” which equates cancer victims to buffaloes. They are strong and valiant and there used to be buffaloes in Valle Crucis. It’s really a tribute to him.”
Chelsea, which means beautiful, was added to the name recently in honor of Kincheloe Hahrd’s daughter who tragically passed away from cancer at the age of 15.
To raise money for the cause, the team focuses on luminaria sales.
“It has been pretty phenomenal because there are hundreds of survivors in this small community,” Storelli said. “The survivor lap says it all. It’s great to see everyone out there and it is a great experience for everyone.”
The Boone Drug Crusaders are a seven member team organized by captain Carrie Phillips and her teammates Sharon Hudson, Jill Davis, Martha Caldwell, Jim Caldwell, Marilyn Farthing and Katie Betz. The team was developed to help those who have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer.
“We have done a few fundraisers to help raise money for the cause,” said team captain Carrie Phillips.
The team has campaigned for sponsorship donations, raised money with a lasagna dinner, help a Pampered Chef fundraiser, sold luminaries and asked people to fill up pill bottles with loose change and return them in order to raise funds for Relay for Life. The team has raised over $100 with just the pill bottle campaign alone.
“This is something that we feel that we need to go,” Phillips said.
“It helps a great cause, funds cancer research and it’s a fun time to spend with family and friends.”
The Boone Drug Crusaders will have a tent at the Relay for Life event on Friday where they will have glow-in-the-dark items like rings, glasses, bracelets and tattoos for sale, as well as boys and girls grab bags and bottled water.
G.R.E.G, which stands for Greg’s Resting Eternally with God) was named in memory of team captain Melanie Hollar’s late husband, Gred Edminsten, who after battling cancer for four years passed away at the age of 35 in November 2001. Two years before he died, Greg along with family in friends started the team in honor of Greg, and to this day Hollar continues to participate in his memory.
“One of the most memorable Relay for Life events was Greg’s last one in 2001 just months before he died,” Hollar said. “I have precious memories of that event. I am always excited to celebrate at the Relay with the survivors and remember with sweet memories and tears those who are now eternal survivors.”
Lobbying for cancer and being a cancer advocate has been a passion for Hollar, as she has been an oncology nurse for eight years. SHe now serves at the Volunteer Act Lead for the High Country Area through the American Cancer Society.
To raise funds, she has asked family and friends to donate to the American Cancer Society through the purchase of luminaries.
“Every candle has a name,” Hollar said. “I love to look at the pictures that people put on the luminaries and read the messages. I am an advocate in not only raising money for the American Cancer Soceity but to bring awareness in screenings and prevention as well as ask people to get involved in helping pass cancer legislation.”