By: Terry Simpson
While the sky may have been dreadful, the bright colors shining from the Farmers Market on Saturday, May 11, would make you think you were staring straight into the sun.
The rainy weather put a damper on the evening, as the 2019 Relay for Life kicked off its annual celebration and memorial at the Farmers Market, but that feeling was quickly lifted as the “Persimmon Pages,” took the stage to perform for the attendees who braved the weather for the event.
The group, made up of Mason, Jackson and Maclane Page, (the family of one of the survivors — Millie Page — were dressed in outrageous costumes by today’s standards, but perfectly normal for the 60’s generation. They showed off bright orange, pink and yellow flowers, beads and peace symbols, with Jackson donning a huge afro and McClain sporting a long curly ginger do.
They sang “The Cover of the Rolling Stone,” to laughs and cheers from their audience.
Their performance seemed to lighten the mood and, even though the rain continued to pour, the event went off without a hitch under the roof of the market, the culmination of the annual Relay for Life fund raiser for the American Cancer Society.
Children and adults alike played games, did crafts, cake walked and bid on items in a silent auction. Concessions were sold with crowd favorites being ice cream sundaes and “Bam Bam” nachos.
The sundaes, including toppings lining an entire table, were served by Joe and April Miller, who lost their son, Joseph, to cancer recently.
The crowd spoke fondly of Joseph, remembering his past years of support of Relay For life and his entertainment the previous year with his jokes and rendition of “What a Wonderful World.” The theme of this year’s event, “Bright Shooting Stars for a Bright Shining Future,” was actually chosen by Joseph before he passed away.
The nachos heaped generously by Susan Clarkson were served in memory of her son, Matthew.
Clarkson smiled, “he sold these at the last Relay he was able to attend. I have been meaning to bring them back and finally did it this year. They seem to be a hit.”
Clarkson, the Captain of the Survivor/Caregiver team, has been with Relay for Life for several years. She spoke after the Persimmon Pages performance, saying, “Y’all have made my Relay. I have been looking forward to this for weeks and it was awesome!”
She continued, “You see these kids here tonight, all of them, this is our future. We need fresh blood. We encourage all of them to get more involved in Relay and if any of you have friends who you think would be interested, encourage them to do so.”
The event, while fun for the team members, also holds special ceremonies for cancer survivors and those who have died from the disease.
A ceremony was held with names read aloud and luminaries placed around a track, where families walked in honor and in memory of other fighters.
A ceremony was also held for survivors with medallions given out for each cancer-free anniversary/birthday.
Teams attending the event this year were: The 7Ts, GES, Ham Henderson, JHC, Hammer Heroes, JHC, MCHS, MCMC Relay, MCMS, Mill Creek Cross trainers, Millers Melons, Millies Mob, Pre-K, Stitches, TES and Survivor/Caregivers. The winner for best campsite was Millie’s Mob and the winner of the t-shirt contest was the Survivor Team.
Attendees somber, not from the weather, but remembering those lost, huddled around the lanterns and bags softly glowing in the night as the names were read.
Some wiped tears while others shared a memory.
Clarkson spoke once more, “We would like to note our appreciation to everyone who was a part of this year’s event. We also encourage everyone to get screenings such as mammograms, pap smears, chest x-rays—just do it, we know it saves lives.”