By Gwen Sisson
“Relay for Life is an important event for Winston County because cancer has affected too many in our community,” said Brandi Krajewski, chairperson for the 2014 Winston County Relay for Life.
“At one time, cancer was one of the leading causes of death in our county,” Krajewski said. “However, cancer still ranks the second leading cause of death in Winston County. I think those statistics alone should be enough reason for individuals to want to come out and be active in this event. There is no company in this entire universe who operates with out funds. By us relaying, we provide the American Cancer Society with funds to pay for research. It is very important that we as an entire community get involved and support this cause.”
This year’s event is set for May 2, 2014 at the Louisville High School football field. This year’s theme will be “Winston County Does Not Toy with Cancer.”
“I want people to interpret (the theme) as we are all working hard as a TEAM to fight back against this horrible monster,” Krajewski said. “Cancer has taken the lives of many from our community. Some have been fortunate to beat the illness. Some have not. We Relay for both…our survivors who give us hope and those who we have lost because we want a cure so that our future generations can hopefully be survivors too!”
Winston County has been active in Relay for Life for many years. Krajewski said each year Relay for Life teams raise money for research, education, and bring awareness into our community.
Laura McKee, Relay for Life Specialist in the Mid-South Division for the American Cancer Society said last year, Winston County raised $31,000 for cancer research. This year, the goal is $36,000.
“Winston county is ‘Finishing the Fight’!!!” McKee said.
Krajewski said Relay for Life touches her heart because she has lost several grandparents to cancer.
“I would like to think that the future will bring us a cure for every type of cancer there is,” Krajewski said.
Krajewski first became involved in Relay for Life several years ago when Laura Harris asked her about coming on the committee to assist in the activities side of things. She planned the activity events at Relay for about two years before co-chairing the event with Melanie Yates. After Yates chaired the event, Krajewski served as chairperson for the next few years but later took a break. She has been back working with the committee for the last three years.
Krajewski said the committee that is currently working with Relay for Life is a group of individuals who have all worked on the committee each year, including Penny Crowson and Joann Clark who have done luminaries for many years.
“They do a super job every year getting the luminaries and sky lanterns sold at the event,” Krajewski said. “They call the names out the night of the event and to most persons, this is the most special part of the event — to see the lanterns flying in the sky as his or her loved ones names are called. It is the greatest honor to listen to all of those survivors names and it is a very heart-touching moment to hear the names of those who didn’t beat cancer but who meant so much to those in our community and to their friends and loved ones.”
Melanie Yates, Sara Hill and Leigh Wade are serving as chairs for the survivors.
“We would like to encourage all persons who have survived cancer to be on the field for the survivor reception and survivor walk,” Krajewski said. “It is such a special part of the night to see all the survivors in their purple t-shirts! It gives all of those who are battling the illness and those who have not been affected but know that they too could become a victim of cancer HOPE. That is exactly what you are as a survivor…hope to ohters. Hope and inspiration that every person has just as good of a chance in defeating this.”
Fundraisers are underway with teams throughout the county leading up to the May 2 event, where additional fundraising will take place on the football field. All funds raised by the Relay for Life teams go to the American Cancer Society to help with research for a cure for cancer, services to cancer patients, and awareness for cancer prevention.
To become part of this year’s Relay for Life event, contact Krajewski at (662) 803-9026.