As one, they marched around the field to start the 2012 American Cancer Society Pell City Relay for Life.
The annual event, held at Pete Rich Stadium at Pell City High School, brings together people of all walks of life, united by one bond—cancer.
“When I had surgery for ovarian cancer, the doctor said I had maybe three-to-five years to live,” said Willie Belle Coshatt. “Forty-one years later, I’m still going.”
Coshatt was one of the three longest-surviving attendees at the Relay. James Gregg, a 53-year cancer survivor, said he was working on 53 more years. Faye Bivens is a 48-year survivor with her first bout of cancer, and a 23-year survivor the second time.
For others, it was their first visit to a Relay event.
“This is the first year Iola Roberts Elementary School has participated in Relay,” said Lisa Hughes, secretary for the school.
Hughes said she was diagnosed with breast cancer Jan. 16. The school participated as Team Lisa, in honor of Hughes.
“The prognosis looks good,” she said. “I’m currently halfway through chemo. I couldn’t do it without my family, and my Iola family.”
“I would love to do it every year,” she said. “I think it will be an annual event for Iola.”
Pell City Relay for Life chairwoman Mary Olson said this year’s Relay raised $63,324.75.
She said although Relay did not meet its fundraising goal of $85,000, the event went very well.
“It’s a neat event,” Olson said. “I love to see the people and the survivors come together.”
The Top Team Award went to the Pell City Line Dancers, who raised $7,732.46.
The New Team Award went to Team Lisa.
The Best Campsite Award went to Team Lisa.
The Church Team Award went to Mt. Zion Baptist Church/Pell City First United Methodist Church, who raised $3,247.
The Online Team Award went to Kristin’s Angels, who raised $1,431.
The Individual Top Fundraiser was Mary Olson, who raised $4,790.31, and the runner up was Doris Munkus, who raised $4,321.
The Spirit of Relay Award went to Kathy Patterson and Tracy Whitten.
The Spirit of Courage Award went to Bob Watson.
“My wife Patsy really deserves the award,” said Watson, who is a two-time cancer survivor. “She is the greatest gift God has given me in the last 2,000 years.”
Watson said he is fortunate to have the support of so many people.
“Hopefully in several years we won’t have a Relay because we won’t need one anymore,” he said.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.