Living in an area where the word “cancer” is heard much too often, it’s good to know there are people doing something about it — namely, participating in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay For Life (RFL). The two-day event is designed to promote cancer awareness while raising funds to fight the disease.
“It absolutely amazes me the outpouring of love here in Harlan County,” said RFL Specialist Roxanne Rose. “As of Tuesday $55,972.88 has already been raised. Our Harlan County RFL event begins Friday and continues through Saturday morning and we know we will top that figure when it’s all said and done. We may even exceed $60,000 here in Harlan County.”
Rose said just two years ago only $17,000 was raised in Harlan County and last year $33,619 was donated to the ACS’s fight against cancer.
“So many people are affected by cancer,” said Rose. “One in 235 children will be diagnosed with cancer before their 21st birthday. That’s just too many. So, we’re all just trying to fight for a cure. Every 72 cents of every single dollar goes to research to find that cure.”
Rose added one in every three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
“Right now statistics show that 1,650,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and about 550,000 will lose their lives to cancer in 2014,” said Rose. “That’s too many. Harlan County has the highest rate of lung cancer in the state. Perry County is a real close second. We want to find a cure and that is why we do what we do.”
Rose said two cosmetologists have now been trained in Harlan County, one in Cumberland and one in Harlan, to provide free services to cancer patients.
“Some of the funds we raise help with cancer patient care,” said Rose. “We are in need of volunteers to help transport cancer patients to and from treatments. Often time’s cancer patients have no way to their treatments and you can have all the care in the world but if the patients can’t get there it does them no good.”
Opening ceremonies for the 2014 Harlan County Relay for Life event will begin Friday at Huff Park with registration at 6 p.m. and the survivors walk at 7 p.m. escorted by the Harlan High School football team.
“This year in addition to celebrating our survivors, we will celebrating our caregivers and will have a caregiver lap,” said Rose. “We are also adding a children’s lap in honor of the children of Harlan County. We will have tons of fun and games courtesy of Harlan County 4-H. We’ll have the Bounce House inflatables for the children to enjoy.”
Harlan County RFL Chair Phyllis Napier said she is “very excited” about this year’s event.
“We have 30 teams registered and 305 participants registered for the event,” said Napier. “We invite everyone to come out and enjoy the activities, because everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. I’m proud of Harlan County. Our teams and committee have done an unbelievable job this year in raising donations and awareness. Hopefully, one day we will find a cure.”
Rose said one of the most popular activities Harlan County does during RFL is the “Dude Looks Like A Lady” event at midnight.
“We have Harlan’s Got Talent winner Deric Jeffers singing,” said Rose. “Ashley Bledsoe and Sarah Harrison, Harlan Musette alumni, Of the Spheres and Brooklyn Collins also performing. DJ Mark Lawson, with Maximum Sound Studio, will provide music throughout the evening. We’ll have a Zumbathon with Erin and Lyndsey and WYMT weatherman Brandon Robinson emceeing the event for us.”
Along with the luminaria ceremony at 10:30 p.m., Rose said they have added a torch ceremony, dedicated to those who have lost their battle with cancer, which she said “will be very touching this year.” At 7 a.m. on Saturday she said they will end the event with a sunrise service.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-909-4147 or on Twitter @Nola_hde