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Survivors feted at Relay for Life dinner
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Richmond Hill’s Relay for Life committee hosted a dinner Monday night for cancer survivors and their families. Attendees ate barbecue and those heading up this year’s Relay talked about the festivities and the importance of cancer research. - photo by Luke Hearn

The Richmond Hill Relay for Life committee sponsored a dinner Monday night to honor cancer survivors in the area.

After enjoying a feast of barbecue and all the fixings those in attendance watched a video on a married couple from Virginia who are both survivors of cancer and their overcoming cancer and subsequent involvement with Relay for Life.

After the video, Kylene Hartsfield, an American Cancer Society staff member working with this year’s Richmond Hill Relay for Life spoke to the survivors and their families.

"Our goal when the American Cancer Society first started was to get rid of cancer, and it’s still our goal today," she said. "That’s our motivation to continue to do state of the art research to find cures for the cancers that are still out there."

The theme Richmond Hill’s upcoming Relay for Life, which starts on Friday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at J.F. Gregory Park and ends at 7 the next morning, is "Jump on Board: Cancer is Not a Game."

Brenda Kohler is a cancer survivor and has been involved with Relay since learning of her cancer.

"It’s very uplifting to see people who have survived (cancer) and those that are still going through it," she said of the event.

Kohler had cancer of the bone in the spleen, and said her doctors caught it early. She’s been cancer-free for three years.

Shondi Burnsed first became involved with Relay for Life in 2001. Though she’s survived skin cancer, she said she participates in the Relay festivities because she has many family members who have dealt with cancer.

"I had a cousin who died of leukemia and my father died in 2002 from lung cancer," Burnsed said. "Mine (involvement) is more for my family. We have lots of survivors and we’ve lost some, too."

She said Relay for Life is a way for her to help "wave that magic wand" to help rid the world of cancer.

"It’s a fight and I’m sick and tired of the beast and I want to see it gone," she said. "Raising money gives more people more hope and we want to keep that going."

According to the American Cancer Society’s web site Relay for Life began in 1985 when Washington physician Gordy Klatt decided to raise money for cancer research by running 24 hours straight. Friends donated $25 to Klatt to walk or run with him for 30 minutes.

By the end of the 24 hours Klatt had run 83 miles and raised $27,000. Now, nearly 5,000 communities participate in the yearly event.

Pembroke’s Relay for Life will be held at Hendrix Park on May 11 starting at 7 p.m.

For more information on Relay for Life in Bryan County, contact Hartsfield at 355-5196.

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