VINTON–Vinton Relay for Life has kicked off their 2013 campaign to “Strike Out Cancer”. Organizers met on January 7 in the William Byrd High School cafeteria to celebrate last year’s victories and to plan this year’s efforts to eradicate the disease.
Relay co-chairs Angie Chewning Lewis, Kim Barker, and Tammy Halliwill announced that this year’s Relay will begin at 6:00 p.m. on April 19 and continue until 6:00 a.m. the following morning in the WBHS stadium. The local theme will be “Step up to the Plate/Strike Out Cancer.”
Vinton’s goal will once again be to raise $100,000 for research through the American Cancer Society (ACS). Ten teams with 24 participants have already registered and raised $690 for the local 2013 Relay.
Dee-Ann Dillon, cheerleading coach for WBHS, brought the first cheers of the night with her presentation of a check for $7337.89 to the Vinton Relay for Life raised at this fall’s Battle at Byrd cheerleading competition.
Dr. Richard Turner, principal at WBHS, spoke movingly of the effects of cancer on him and on his family, having just celebrated his 5th year cancer-free. He spoke of the excellent care afforded his father-in-law, Walter Beavers, at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and of the Hope Lodge where his in-laws were able to stay during weeks of treatments all thanks to the American Cancer Society.
Turner also spoke of Major Jeffrey Pruitt, Byrd’s Air Force JROTC instructor, who passed away this fall after a twelve year battle against lung cancer, and of the many different courses of treatment he was able to undergo which extended his life—all due to advances in cancer research.
“What we are doing here is important,” said Turner. “I am proud of what we have accomplished here in a small community.”
Mike Stovall, Vinton’s representative on the Roanoke County School Board, spoke of the impact of the Vinton Relay for Life on the local community, even on something that might seem as inconsequential as the composition of the new track at WBHS.
“We made a choice to install an asphalt track instead of a rubberized track in the stadium because the community and the Vinton Relay would be denied access to the track if it were made of rubberized material,” said Stovall.
Tara Wheeler, Miss Virginia 2008, and now a broadcaster for Fox 21/27, attended the Vinton Kick-Off event at WBHS. She was applauded for showing her dedication to pediatric cancer research by shaving her head to raise over $30,000 for the cause.
Lewis, Barker, and Halliwill along with past co-chairs Carolyn and Don Williams, displayed the banners won by the Vinton Relay for Life teams in 2012, for reaching the goal of $100,000 and for being the highest per capita Relay in the state of Virginia with $13.00 raised for each resident of the Town. The group also visited the January 2 Vinton Town Council meeting to celebrate the awards.
Longtime volunteer Suzanne Bell was honored in her role as Captain of the Flower Children Team, which she formed in 1997. The Flower Children received awards from the ACS for being the # 7 fundraising team in Western Virginia and # 45 in the South Atlantic Division.
Bell was also named Volunteer of the Year for 2012 for her continuing dedication to the cause of cancer research and to Relay for Life.
Funds raised by Relay for Life serve many different purposes. They help pay for lodging at ACS Hope Lodges for patients and their families at facilities located across the country. They help assist cancer patients with transportation to and from treatments in the Road to Recovery Program. Donations support recently diagnosed breast cancer patients in the Reach to Recovery Program.
Money raised helps the over 2200 people who call the ACS each day to receive information on the disease and on treatment options. And most significantly, donations to Relay help fund groundbreaking research and new clinical trials in the fight against all forms of cancer.
More information on participation in the Vinton Relay for Life and on the American Cancer Society is available from Julie Satterwhite, Vinton’s ACS Community Manager by calling her at 540-774-2716 or by emailing her at Julie.Satterwhite@cancer.org. The next Vinton Relay for Life meeting will be on February 11 in the WBHS library.