Relay Day poignant

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By By MaryClaire Foster
This week’s Lifestyles marks the second time for Relay for Life to be featured this year.
Usually, we try to feature a wide array of topics, but I felt justified in featuring Relay twice for the sheer fact of the amount of community support behind it.
Pulling into Tom Byrne Park Saturday, I expected a large turnout of people, like I said there has been a lot of community support, but what I did not expect is the way I would react to the event. Obviously, I do not know myself very well.
When I first got there everything was fine- it was a beautiful day, I got to see some good people, and I was going to get to eat some good food, then things really got started.
Beginning the event is the survivor lap, a victory lap if you will for all of those who have beat cancer.
Seeing survivor after survivor walking by triumphantly whether on their own or with the support of a loved one, then seeing community members filing in after them or cheering them on from the sidelines to show their support I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of both sorrow and pride.
Pride that these people were able to endure through such a harrowing experience and make that lap that day and sorrow that it had interrupted their lives no matter the length of time.
Sorrow also came from knowing that my father’s brother, my Uncle Jay, may never get the chance to make that lap, as he is battling an advanced case of cancer himself.
Still, the day was a fun opportunity to be out in the community.
I honestly do not know how those people, many of whom began their day at 8 a.m., lasted the whole day out there. I cheated and took several extended breaks and was still utterly exhausted by 10:30 that night.
The longer I live in Atmore the more I appreciate how a community is able to really come together in a small town.
One recent letter to the editor, expressed concern that raising funds for Relay may not be the best way to benefit our community directly and mentioned several of these other important local organizations.
I can understand the concern the author had about whether Atmore and its residents were directly benefiting from the money our community put into Relay, but it’s so much more than knowing that someone got a gas card or received help with their medical bills.
When you support Relay, you’re supporting the greater good. What Relay is about is finding a cure for a disease that affects people of all walks of lives in communities all over the world.
This is exactly why Relay is so successful here- anyone would be hard pressed to find someone who had not in some way been affected by cancer.
MaryClaire Foster is news editor for the Atmore Advance. She can be reached at (251) 368-2123 or via email at

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