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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Relay for life.. Just a week away

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"We usually have our first meeting after the first of the year and begin kicking around ideas for fundraisers," said Bob Rodgers, associate pastor at the Viola Assembly of God.

For the third year, Rodgers is captain of the church's Relay for Life Team, one of the Fulton County teams who work to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

That work ends with a 12-hour event where team members take turn walking and running to remember cancer victims, encourage cancer patients and symbolically say, "we are fighting back against the disease."

Relay proceeds are used for cancer research, to fund cancer prevention and detection programs and to assist cancer patients and their families.

This year's Fulton County Relay for Life begins at 6 p.m. on June 10 at the Salem Greyhound baseball field, but work on the event never really stops.

"We have had several fundraisers this year, including a concert at Viola High School and garage sales and bake sales," Rodgers explains.

His 12 member team has already raised more than $2,000 for this year's Relay.

"Teams don't pay to enter but it is suggested that each team raise about $100 for each team member, and we've got that covered and more," said Rodgers.

When the Relay begins with cancer survivors taking the first lap, Viola Assembly team members will be cheering on one of their own.

"I try to do what I can. I really enjoy it," said Lois Rodgers, Bob's almost 100-year-old mother.

Last year, Lois participated in her first relay. As a 22-year cancer survivor, she attended a survivors party before the event began, enjoyed a limousene ride to Relay opening ceremonies and joined survivors in the first lap.

"Last year, they took me around in a wheelchair," said Rodgers. "But. this year, I want to walk a little."

Son, Bob, isn't sure about that but said his mother, who is alert and energetic, is an inspiration to members of his team.

The church will hold a 100th birthday party for her on July 16.

In 1989, Lois was diagnosed with cancer. She was living in California at the time and moved to New Mexico to be closer to her children.

"I was upset, but I accepted it (the cancer diagnosis) and they did surgery and treated me at Hobbs, New Mexico, and I've been fine since then," Mrs. Roberts explained.

"I was lucky because they have all these treatments now," Roberts added. "I have had a lot of cancer in my family. My mother was just 44 when she died and I believe she could have lived a few years longer with the kind of medical care they have today."

Roberts is happy she can do her part to raise money to help others battling cancer and to serve as proof cancer can be overcome.

"There's a lot to it and a lot of years we say we're not going to do it next year. We're going to sit out a year," said Fulton County Rockers Captain Vicki Bishop. "But we always decide to continue because it's such a good cause."

Bishop is the Fulton County Clerk and her team is made up primarily of county employees. At about 30 members, it is one of the largest Relay teams and one of the top money raisers.

"I think people get so dedicated to the Relay for Life because cancer hits home to everybody," Bishop said. "We all have loved ones who have died from cancer or are battling it, and the relay is a way to try to do something about it."

Bishop added, three years in a row, a team member or a member of their family was diagnosed and the Relay is one way to rally behind them.

The Rockers raise money through methods most teams use, like potluck lunches or bake sales.

But it always tries to come up with a major fundraiser each year.

For two years, the Rockers sponsored a "Womanless Beauty Pageant," where brave men, dressed as women, competed for the crown and raised money for the cause as people voted for the winner by making contributions to their favorite.

It also held a financially successful peewee basketball tournament.

This year, the Rockers decided to "think big," bringing a Dueling Pianos show from Branson to the Salem Fairgrounds.

The event was a bit of a gamble because the Rockers had to spend some of their money, up front, to book the show. Leslie Drug helped with expenses and the night of fun brought in more than one thousand dollars.

"We set a goal of raising $3,000 this year," said Bishop, and we feel like we'll top it."

After months of hard work, the actual Relay for Life Event is the team's payoff.

The Rockers hold one last fundraiser, selling helium baloons, which are released during the Luminaria Ceremony, where the names of victims are read.

At the Relay, each team sets up a camp and will deocrate it to reflect this year's theme, "Toon Out Cancer." The camps are where members gather as they take turns walking laps to honor cancer victims and survivors.

"We all arrive early and get together to visit and eat and enjoy the event." said Bishop.

Long time Fulton County Relay Chairwoman Linda Gregg says 13 teams and about 250 participants will help make this year's Relay a success.

"Fulton County has been dedicated and reliable, despite these hard economic times," said Gregg. "We raised about $30,000 last year and we expect to match or exceed that figure this year, as the community pulls together for a good cause."

When the Relay officially ends at 6 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, there will be a feeling of accomplishment among team members.

Then, it will be time to start thinking about next year's Relay for Life.

Major sponsors for this year's Relay are North Arkansas Electric, Salem 1st Care, Short Title Company, Allsteel, Beta Sigma Phi Omicron, Centurylink, Fred's Fish House and Southfork River Therapy and Living Center.

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