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Relay for Life set for May 19
The "Family Ties" team has participated in the Relay since 2009.

It has become a yearly tradition for many people in our area - walking the track and participating in the events surrounding the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Relay For Life of Cleveland County. This year's event will take place on Friday, May 19, 2017, from 4 p.m. until midnight at the Cleveland County Fairground.
Relay For Life "unites cancer survivors, caregivers, volunteers, and community members in an effort to free the world from the pain and suffering of cancer," according to publicity materials.
Jeff Wright knows that pain and suffering all too well. He first participated in the Relay in 2009 in support of his sister, who was battling leukemia, and his sister-in-law, who had breast cancer. Wright's sister, Sheila Whisnant, died later that year. His sister-in-law, Karen Martin, recovered and is doing well. Wright organizes his team, "Family Ties," each year in memory of his sister and in honor of his sister-in-law.
Wright's "Family Ties" team is among close to 100 teams helping to raise funds for this year's Relay. During the event, members of each team take turns walking or running around a track. Teams also participate in fundraising in the months leading up to the event.
"I think most families have been touched by cancer in some way," says Wright. "This is our family's way to help those who have had to deal with it in the past or who are dealing with it now."
His team plans to host a booth selling various food items. They also held fundraisers earlier this month at Mi Pueblito and Toscanos Bistro. All of the proceeds will go to the ACS.
"All those who have ever been diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers are encouraged to join the Survivor Reception from 4 to 6 p.m. at Gorforth Hall," says Julie Pearson, ACS spokesperson for Cleveland County. "We will have light refreshments, entertainment and survivor t-shirts. No RSVP is required. As the survivors' walk begins at 6 p.m., other participants will cheer them on in a demonstration of support and celebration."
Activities will continue throughout the evening as team members walk the track and participants visit the various team booths for food, crafts and fun activities. After dark, Relay participants share an emotional moment when the luminaria are lit in remembrance of lives touched by cancer. Luminaria are dedicated to those who have battled cancer in the past or who are currently battling the disease. Many are decorated with the names of the people to whom they are dedicated, along with messages and special drawings. Together, all participants will take a moment of silence to remember the loved ones for whom the Relay For Life event is all about.
"It's a very special time and a very special event," says Pearson. "We hope everyone in the community will consider coming out to support this very important cause."
For more information about this year's walk, visit
clevelandcountync or search for "Relay For Life Cleveland County" on Facebook.

By April Hoyle Shauf

Special to Shelby Shopper & Info

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