14 teams participate in Relay for Life of Jonesborough

Zach Vance • Updated Jul 23, 2016 at 8:32 PM

Beating cancer was the ultimate motivator Saturday afternoon during the fourth annual Relay for Life of Jonesborough fundraising event. 

While the heat was overwhelming at times, 14 teams comprised of local organizations, businesses and families showed their strength against cancer while raising funds to go toward the American Cancer Society. 

The public event, which began at 2 p.m. and lasted until 10 p.m., encouraged a member from each team to walk around the outlining trail of Storytelling Park before another trading off to another teammate.

“We have about 10 to 15 (vounteers) that are day-of help that we couldn’t do without, and then we have 14 teams and around 200 participants who are registered, who are cancer survivors, their families and people from the town,” organizer Jessica Poff said of the Relay for Life participants.

While not a race by any means, Poff said the event was to signify the battle against cancer.

“Cancer doesn’t stop, so neither do we,” Poff said. “That’s why we try to have someone walking (from each team) during the event.”

The event featured food, music and games with the focus on raising funds for the American Cancer Society. 

Poff said last year the local branch of the American Cancer Society raised $28,000, and the majority came from the signature Relay for Life event.

In 2015, the American Cancer Society helped over 4,500 people in Washington County. 

“We used to have a large Washington County event, but about five years ago, Jonesborough businesses and residents came and said they were their own separate entity. They wanted to make something for our town,” Poff said. 

Saturday was the first time the event was held in the Storytelling Park instead of being on the street.

Frozen T-shirt winners Beth Berry and her daughter, Brittney Berry, defeated eight other teams by thawing out a frozen shirt and putting it on the quickest. 

“This event is very encouraging,” said Beth Berry, who’s a breast cancer survivor. “Just being together and sharing that common bond. It’s wonderful. Seeing people come out like your family and friends to support this, it really means a lot.” 

Saturday was Betty Smith’s fourth Relay for Life since beating cancer 11 years ago. 

“The highlight for me is the Luminaria Ceremony. It’s also the low light, too, because you’re seeing the (names of) people you’ve lost,” said Smith, who was volunteering for the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association team. 

“But the survivor dinner is also great and seeing all the survivors getting together. There is a shared common bond. Each of us may of had different kinds of cancers, but we’re all there,” Smith said.  

The Luminaria Ceremony was scheduled to happen at 9 p.m., but was rescheduled because of rain.

The ceremony honors those who have died of cancer or are currently battling the disease. Participants decorate a bag with that person’s name on it and illuminate it by placing a candle inside. 

A scavenger hunt, talent show and dance off filled the middle of the day before the rain delayed the ceremony. 

Poff said she wasn’t sure when the Luminaria Ceremony would be rescheduled, but it will be announced soon on the Jonesborough Relay for Life Facebook page.

The American Cancer Society’s next events will be a barbecue dinner in September and the Bark for Life event on Oct. 22 in downtown Jonesborough. 

Email Zach Vance at [email protected] Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP

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