Polk County Relay For Life makes a difference in community, for research
by Andy Philpot
Published in the May 24, 2012 issue of The Mena Star
As Relay For Life is now a well established tradition in Polk County, it serves many more purposes that meets the eye. Co-chairs of the local Relay For Life, Regina and Richie Lawry, can tell you that while the event itself is one weekend of the year, the efforts are a year -round effort. This year-round effort that the Lawrys have instilled into making Relay For Life as successful as possible in our communities, the same commitment is followed by a number of organizations, businesses, and individuals, who seek to raise as much money as possible for Relay For Life. This money in turn goes toward cancer research, which in turn leads to more treatments of the many cancers our friends and family encounter, which in turn leads to many more birthdays and reasons to celebrate.
Last year Polk County Relay For Life raised 66,000, which combined with the rest of the Relay For life events that took place in Arkansas, a total of $4.5 million was raised by Relay For Life events across the state in 2011. This total gets combined with all the other Relay For Life events that take place nation-wide, all of which are raised for the American Cancer Society to use toward cancer research. With the ultimate goal of one day eliminating the words "You Have Cancer" being spoken by doctors, it takes a collective effort to reach this goal.
Helping to emphasize the significance of every dollar that is raised in community Relays, two different testimonies were shared at this year's Polk County Relay For Life. Keisha Pittman, from Arkadelphia, shared her cancer battle testimony during the opening ceremonies of this year's Relay, and emphasized that every dollar amount is important toward the shared goal of defeating cancer. She spoke how community Relay For Life events in both big cities and smaller towns are all invaluable because they all go toward the common goal. The funds of Relay For Life are what helps make continued research and advancements in cancer treatments possible.
Deidra Porter, of Conway, shared her testimony just before the Luminaria ceremony, and how her cancer experience has her that much more an advocate for Relay For Life events throuought the devoted communities. Porter was diagnosed with cancer, and moments before she was to begin her first treatment, she learned she was pregnant. Like Pittman, Porter's testimony was both emotional and inspirational. Porter not only endured cancer and now can share her story with others, but she also has a healthy son that has endured the treatments. Sharing the exact sentiment of Pittman, Porter praised Relay For Life and how every dollar raised in important to the overall goal of seeking an end to cancer.
Pittman and Porter traveled to Mena to share their testimonies with the Polk County Relay For Life participants, and their stories are added to the always growing list of cancer survivors that do hear the words "You Have Cancer", but endure the battle and can proudly wear a purple shirt as they walk the Survivors Lap.
Relay For Life is held for the purpose of celebrating the survivors, remembering those we have lost, and giving hope that one day the world may be cancer free. Through the celebrating and remembering, the success gets passed along to the American Cancer society through the fundraising that happens all year long. With each Relay For life that takes place, it adds to the overall funding that can be used toward cancer research and treatments.
Relay For Life has been raising money for the American Cancer Society since 1985, when Gordy Klatt came up with a way to raise funds for his local American Cancer Society office in Tacoma, Washington, and show support of all his patients who had battled cancer. He did this by spending 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound. He ran more than 83 miles and his efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer. It has only gotten bigger and better from there.