Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 29, 2014

To ‘finish the fight’

Walkers carry powerful message for Relay for Life

PRINCETON — Cancer survivors — more than 100 strong — stepped out with pride for the ceremonial first lap on the Mercer County Relay for Life at the Princeton Senior High School Everett K. Bailey Soccer Complex.

Everything to that point had been geared to “Finish the Fight,” and included a performance of the “Star-spangled Banner” by Emily Muncy, reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by the Children from Relay and an invocation by Pastor Devin Olachea of Stinson United Methodist Church.

Johnny Jones, a cancer survivor, told his personal story of survival from prostate and bone cancer. He said that after his prostate cancer was diagnosed, he had surgery, but the PSA reading he had indicated that his cancer wasn’t gone. He said that on July 2 and 3, he will have a fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society at the Kroger store in Hinton. “Last year, we raised almost $5,000,” he said.

Chrissy White and Diane Graham — co-chair and chair respectively of the 2014 relay — gave words of encouragement to all of the walkers. “Thanks to everyone on the committee,” White said. “Everyone has done an amazing job.”

The second ceremonial lap — the special caregivers lap — proved to be a little more emotional. Wendy Wellman of Hospice Compassus, read a poem prior to the start of the walk. Wellman asked the caregivers to look at their hands. “It was these hands that fed them when they couldn’t feed themselves,” she said.

Wellman asked the caregivers to look at their arms. “It was these arms that hugged them,” she said. Wellman asked them to cross their hands and place them over their hearts. “It was your heart that cared. It was your heart that shared,” Wellman said.

As they started the walk, almost everyone walking brushed away tears as they made their way around the track outside the playing field. Various teams stood near the edge of the track, applauded the walkers and gave them words of encouragement. The walkers sniffed back tears and continued their walk.

“We all come together today to finish the fight,” Jason Reed, one of the relay coordinators said. He said that cancer doesn’t just touch the people in the walk. “It touches all of us,” he said. “Today’s event is simply amazing. During the next 12 hours, we will work together to finish the fight.”

Reed said that the walkers in Princeton were part of 5,000 walkers participating in Relay for Life. “There are millions of people who want to save lives and finish the fight,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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