Relay teams' spirit undampened
LEADING THE WALK Evelyn Williams, left, Zexa Alman, Rex Alman, Zack Earley, Kevin Boyd Sr. Kevin Boyd Jr. and Dee VanDevender lead the survivor walk Friday night for the 2003 Relay for Life ceremonies at Ray Stadium. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 7, 2003
With spirits undampened by rainy weather and a muddy field at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium, Relay for Life teams on Friday celebrated the fight against cancer.
The weather did not stop Sue Clay's children from surprising her, either. Clay, 82, of Bailey, is a colon cancer survivor who was eager to walk in the Survivor's Walk around the track at Ray Stadium.
As rain drizzled over the umbrella one of her children held over her, she kept a tight grip on her cane.
When Clay went to have dinner at Cracker Barrel before the Relay began, she was surprised by all of her children who came to the event to support her: sons, Randy Winfield of Bailey and Tommy Winfield of Hickory; and daughters, Anne Williams of Hattiesburg, Ginger Stewart of Lucedale and Gail Miller of Meridian.
Clay said she was diagnosed with colon cancer in September 2002. After surgery and six months of treatment, she is cancer-free and was beaming at Friday's all-night event.
Some organizers said the weather kept some expected participants, including cancer survivors, away from this year's event, but teams present were dedicated to their cause.
Rain started falling harder while teams walked together in parade fashion around the track, but members of the Wal-Mart Squigglers Team from Meridian's Wal-Mart Super Center didn't mind getting wet.
Kristi Jensen, a cashier and community involvement coordinator, said this is the fourth year the team has been a part of Relay.
Jensen said the team's total was at about $1,500 as they lined up on the track. She said the team held cookouts, raffled Easter baskets and Super Bowl party trays, and sold T-shirts to raise money.
This is Relay for Life's ninth year in Lauderdale County. The event, held at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium, caps off several months of fund-raising for the American Cancer Society with an all-night event, including food, entertainment, team competitions and recognition of survivors.
Over the years Lauderdale County's Relay for Life has received awards for its fund-raising efforts on the regional and national levels.
Last year's local Relay for Life campaign raised $395,000.
Money contributed to the American Cancer Society is used for cancer research, education on cancer prevention and early detection, and services for cancer patients.