The threat of storms did not dampen the spirits of those walking for cancer Friday night. The 2013 Bryan County Relay for Life event was moved from Paul Laird Field to the Durant Middle School Gymnasium.
Opening Ceremonies began at 7 p.m. Twenty teams participated and hundreds showed up to show support for the fight against cancer.
Hero of Hope Speaker Doug Baker shared the story of his wife’s battle with cancer. Although she ultimately lost her life, Baker said she kept in good spirits throughout the whole journey.
His wife Carole was an avid believer in the power of prayer and he said that got her through much of the struggle.
At one point during her fight, Baker said she did not feel she could pray like she wanted to and sent letters to friends asking them to pray for her.
He said that soon after this, Carole received a letter full of rifles from small army men. The letter told Carole that the sender “had her back.”
At Friday night’s event, each person received a green army man. Baker asked the audience to think of somebody that needs support and give them the army man so they know someone has their back.
Survivors took their first lap around the track following this speech. Survivors were then joined by caregivers, then teams and finally, all in attendance.
At 10 p.m. the Luminaria Ceremony began. The crowd gathered in the bleachers on one side of the gymnasium and fell silent as the lights went down.
On the opposite stands, all that could be seen was the word hope lit up by illuminated bags, each with the name of a cancer patient.
During this ceremony, the names of those who have lost the battle with cancer were read, followed by the names of those still fighting and ending with those who have won their battles.
When the lights came back on, the crowd took a silent lap around the track to honor those who lost their battles.
The night continued on with more uplifting events such as a “Hot Babe Contest” and “Midnight Madness.”
The event ended at 7 a.m. Saturday. aAs the sun ros,e those in attendance were reminded that there is light at the end of the battle with cancer even if the journey was as cold and tiring as the night.