YADKINVILLE — Cancer survivors and caretakers along with Relay for Life volunteers filled the Moose Lodge in Yadkin County on Saturday night as cancer survivors celebrated life, enjoyed food and music and gave testimony.
Survivorship Chair Vaness Swaim, a breast cancer survivor, welcomed survivors and the room of people clapped together loudly. With cheers and tears, survivors were asked to stand.
“It is a great turnout, and the reason we are here is to celebrate survivors,” said Swaim. She went on to explain that what they do as volunteers and some survivors themselves is remind others to “celebrate life.”
Volunteers served food from Smith Farms, Darwin’s Cafe and West Yadkin Baptist Church contributed a tableful of homemade desserts to appreciative survivors, caretakers and volunteers.
Forbush graduate Brittany Hodges and volunteer Roseanne Dimmette manned the entrance station at the survivor dinner, smiling and greeting all who participated. Hodges said she first started helping with Relay for Life events in high school, and has loved it ever since. Dimmette, a two-year volunteer, said her husband is a survivor and called the work rewarded and inspiring.
Becky Wood spoke about the caretakers and their importance to cancer survivors. She said, “I bet it is the hardest job in America, but darn tootin’, it is worth it.”
Co-Event Chair Renee Hayes said her husband overcame tremendous odds to be a survivor and said she is thankful to lend her support in any way possible to Relay for Life. Her husband, Mark Hayes, since being diagnosed, has done logistics for the events. “We make it a family thing,” he said.
Hayes led in the door prize giveaway that included gifts donated by many local companies. Hayes pointed out how the Yadkin Early College prom decorations were timely in decorating the Moose Lodge for the “birthday celebrations.”
A person with cancer who is alive even if it is only one day after diagnosis is considered a survivor and qualifies to celebrate a birthday, emphasized all Relay for Life volunteers.
Co-Event Chair Christy Matthews told survivors and caretakers how much they are appreciated and thanked all for coming.
Paula Cooke, accountant with the Relay For Life events, spoke about how 91-year-old survivor DeEtte Renegar remains an inspiration. On her 88th birthday, Renegar carried a torch as Cooke rode her in the golf cart for the survivorship lap during the Relay for Life at the Yadkinville Park. Cooke said she will never forget that day.
Music by Heaven’s Way was performed, and musician from the group, Greg Oliver, shared his testimony with the listening crowd. Oliver has lost family members to cancer and recently donated blood marrow to his brother, who was diagnosed with leukemia.
The band’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” brought the crowd to its feet and tears to many an eye. Oliver performed a song he personally wrote entitled, “There is a Lighthouse.”
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.