Russell County Relay for Life teams are making their final preparations for their organized, overnight fundraising walk May 3-4. Families are welcome to attend both the event to help raise money for The American Cancer Society and to cheer on teams as they walk.
Since its first step, the Relay For Life movement has raised more than $4 billion to fight cancer.
Ten women who will walk as the Russell County Schools team on May 3 at Garrett-Harrison stadium tell us why they decided to participate.
Russell County Relay for Life
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When: Opening ceremony is 7 p.m. May 3.
Where: Garrett-Harrison Stadium in Phenix City, Ala.
Information: 706-593-9101 or 706-888-9098
Spectator activities: Visit vendor and fundraising booths, watch the opening ceremony, listen to entertainment and participate in the Luminaria/Remembrance Ceremony after dark. Children's activities will also be available.
Russell County Schools team captain and 10-year veteran of Relay for Life
Family: Ron, husband of 29 years; Patrick, son
Job: Administrative assistant for Russell County Schools
Background: Attended college at Fachhochschule Steinfurt, Steinfurt, Germany.
Hometown: Grew up in Germany, currently living in Phenix City
How has cancer impacted your life? My paternal grandfather had pancreatic cancer and my maternal grandmother died from throat cancer, even though she was a non-smoker.
Reasons for walking: I feel strongly that a cure for this disease can be found in the near future if enough attention and funding for research are provided. Great strides in early detection and treatment have been made and more people are surviving for longer, but some days I feel like we are still in the dark ages of medicine with this disease. (The first step to a "cure" for most cancers is still surgery and poisoning the body in one way or another to within an inch of your life? Come on, people, we ought to be able to do better than that.) I would encourage others to participate because this is such a wide-spread and variant disease. Almost everyone knows either of a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc. who is fighting/has fought and won/lost the battle against this disease or is fighting/has fought it themselves. It takes all of us raising funds to find a cure for all of the different cancers.
Family: Married to Chad Hammond; one daughter Haydn Rose, 18 months old
Job: Teaches high school social studies, coaches cheerleading, sponsors SGA
Background (education): B.S. from UAB, M.Ed. from UWA
Home town: Eufaula, Ala.
How has cancer impacted your life? My grandmother, Mildred Gamble, has beaten breast cancer twice, and I was diagnosed with precancerous ovarian cells in 2008.
Reasons for walking: I support Relay for Life because I believe that finding a cure for cancer affects everybody.
Lou Ann Holland
Family: Husband is Derrick Holland; kids are Jacob McCulley, Caleb McCulley and Isaiah Holland
Job: Eighth grade math teacher at Russell County Middle School
Background: BS Math Education, MS in Educational Leadership from Jacksonville State University
Hometown: Oxford, Ala.
How has cancer impacted your life? Both my father and stepfather had cancer.
Reasons for walking: Everybody knows someone who has had or has cancer and I want to help, in anyway I can, to find a cure. Life is precious.
Family: Husband, Steve Trammell; children: Lilli, age 2, and Cole, 6.
Job: Kindergarten teacher at Ladonia Elementary School in Phenix City.
Background: Central High School and Troy University graduate.
How has cancer impacted your life? At this point it seems that cancer has impacted everyone in some way or another. I'm not sure that I know anyone that has not known someone who has been diagnosed or passed away from cancer. I have several close friends and family who have been diagnosed with cancer and are survivors and also some who have passed away.
Reasons for walking: I am participating because I truly believe that someone someday will find a cure for this dreadful disease. I am very hopeful that all the research being done will continue to help those affected and help them continue to live longer.
Family: Married to Jeremy Stanford
Job: Third grade teacher at Mt. Olive Intermediate School
Background: Auburn University graduate
Hometown: Woodland, Ala.
How has cancer impacted your life? My nephew, Corey Mitchell, age 11, was diagnosed with cancer on August 9, 2012. Since August he has undergone 38 weeks of chemo, 25 days of radiation, 100 days of a chest tube, 12 weeks of TPN, and 4 surgeries. Growing up, I knew he was so special and such an amazing little boy. He is truly my inspiration. When I think of the long road cancer patients have ahead of them this verse comes to mind:
Jeremiah 33:6: "Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security."
Reasons for walking: I have been on a Relay for Life team for several years, but this year is different. Since my nephew was diagnosed I wanted to do more for cancer research and give hope to cancer patients. I feel like being a part of the Relay for Life team this year has given me hope that there will soon be a cure for cancer. I encourage everyone to participate in Relay for Life because it is a way that we can show our compassion and love to those dealing with cancer.
Family: Five children, two girls (ages 6 and 18) and three boys (ages 8, 10 and 13)
Job: School Nurse at Mount Olive Primary School
Hometown: Phenix City, AL
How has cancer impacted your life? Cancer first impacted my life when I was a little girl. A lady at my church had breast cancer. I remember her struggle. I remember her losing all of her hair. We prayed and prayed for her. She had 3 young children. Her youngest child was a girl. She lost her battle. At her funeral, I remember her little girl crying and begging her mommy to wake up and get out of that box! My heart hurt so very badly for her little girl as well as for her 2 sons.
Reasons for walking: When I was a young adult and newly married, my father-in-law was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Our family was devastated. He fought the battle and won! He has been in remission for 10 years! After that, I got a job at John B Amos Cancer Center, where I saw how important it was to support Relay for Life and The American Cancer Society. A few years ago, my grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was not a smoker so this shocked our family... Her death was very hard on our family. Two years later, my grandpa was diagnosed with colon cancer. By supporting Relay for Life and The American Cancer Society, I know that I can help make a difference. We all need HOPE.
Relay for Life is HOPE for a CURE.
Family: Married to Nick Duke
Job: 7th grade English teacher at Russell County Middle School
Background: Bachelor's from Troy University
Hometown: Seale, Ala.
How has cancer impacted your life: My family has a history of skin cancer, and I have seen many family members struggle with varying degrees of that.
Reasons for walking: Relay for Life is a great organization to get schools and students involved with because it's so open and active that it provides many opportunities to teach kids about community service, about non-profit organizations, about how to fight for their passions, as well as educating them on the fight against cancer.
Family: Joshua Spivey, husband; Emma Grace, age 5, daughter;
Brayden, age 2, son
Job: Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Background: Undergraduate and Master's Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Auburn University
Hometown: Montgomery, Ala.
How has cancer impacted your life: A very influential, close friend in my life has been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer and has really been struggling through treatment this year. Cancer has also impacted several other important people in my family's life in recent years.
Reasons for walking: Relay for Life is a wonderful organization that is really helping to give important people in my life hope to keep fighting and hope for a cure!
Family: Duncan Thompson, Jr., spouse (married for 16 years); Kylee Thompson, age 8, daughter; Duncan Thompson III, age 3, son
Job: Second grade teacher at Oliver Elementary School
Background: Russell County High School, Columbus State University, Troy University with MS
How has cancer impacted your life: Both of my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers lost their lives to cancer. I have had friends who were diagnosed with cancer and are cancer-free today.
Reasons for walking: I know that by raising money and walking that I am making a difference and increasing awareness in my local community. Cancer has touched every one of us in some shape or form and this is one way I can support such a worthy cause.
Family: Chris Clark, spouse; Nic Clark, son; Carmen Clark, daughter in law; Charlotte Clark, granddaughter; Andrew Clark, son; Brittany Clark, daughter in law; Shelby Clark, granddaughter.
Job: Secretary at Dixie Elementary School
How has cancer impacted your life: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003/ I have several friends who have also been diagnosed with breast/cervical cancer
Reasons for walking:
It helps to provide support and hope for those who are fighting cancer and encourages others not to give up their fight. I hope that it helps to fund a cure for cancer so that we don't have to watch our friends, family and loved ones suffer and die from such a brutal disease.
Relay For Life of Muscogee County
When: Opening ceremony is 7 p.m. May 17 and closing ceremony is 7 a.m. May 18. The luminaria ceremony is 9:30 p.m.
Where: Columbus State University, at the corner of University Avenue and Clearview Circle
Of note: Teams need to have a minimum of 5 people and raise a minimum of $500.