WINNSBORO — Over plates of spaghetti they gathered to celebrate birthdays and rekindle a fire to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
Members of the Fairfield County community rallied at the First Church of the Nazarene on Thursday night to kick off the 2013 Relay for Life campaign. This year’s speaker, Jamie Smith with the American Cancer Society, gave an informative recruiting pitch.
Her goal was to get members of the audience to participate in a long term, 30-year research study. The Cancer Prevention Research Study-3 is open to anyone in the United States or Puerto Rico willing to complete follow-up surveys at home every two to three years for the next 20 to 30 years.
Candidates must have never had cancer and need to be between 30 and 65. People who have had basal or squamous cell skin cancers are eligible for the study, however.
People seeking to join the study need to do two things. 1. Attend an enrollment event where they will be asked to give a small blood sample, provide a waist circumference measurement, complete a survey and sign a consent form. Step two involves filling out a detailed personal survey and that can be done in a participant’s home.
Appointments to join the study can be arranged at 111.cps3midlands.org or by calling 1-888-604-5888. One local enrollment event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 7 at the Downtown YMCA located at 1420 Sumter St. in Columbia.
Though the cause is a worthy one that can impact future generations, Smith realized that some people in the room were cancer survivors, and therefore unable to be in the study. She called on them and on community members who did not want to participate firsthand to go out and be advocates for the study.
People interested in becoming advocates to recruit study members were asked to contact Smith and stay up to date through her newsletter. If each of the people could recruit 10 people, then the group would be well on its way to its goal of having 1,000 members for the study.
“Together we can make a difference and create a world with more birthdays,” Smith said.
After she spoke, door prizes were given to two long-term cancer survivors, including Claudette Clack who survived breast cancer in 1972 and colon cancer in 1992. Candles were lighted in honor of survivors and of those who had lost their lives to cancer. The candles were placed on cupcakes, which the audience then ate in keeping with the birthday theme. They also sang “Happy Birthday” to the American Cancer Society.
During the event, relay volunteer Jeff Ross gave an inspiring talk via a video where he spoke of family members who had cancer, including his wife. He encouraged patients, survivors and community members to share his passion for celebrating birthdays in the fight against cancer.
The relay will be at Fairfield Central High School again this year. The event starts at 7 p.m. April 19. During the relay teams of eight to 12 people will camp out at the high school track. Teams are asked to have one representative walking around the track during the event, so team members can trade off relay style to make sure they are continuously represented.
According to the American Cancer Society, one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, so this disease is one that affects a large majority of people. That is one reason the passion is so intense to raise funds that will go to providing cutting edge research and treatments for cancer patients and also to work toward the ultimate goal — finding a cure for cancer.
Funds also help raise awareness for what can be done as preventative measures to guard against cancer. The survivor celebration event is healing for those who have battled cancer and for those who have been recently diagnosed with the disease.
The next Relay for Life team meeting for Fairfield County will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 7 at the Fairfield County School District Office on U.S. 321. Other team captain meetings will be March 7 and April 11. April 15 is the bank day, the final day for a team to collect money that will be counted in its tally to see who raises the most this year in Fairfield County.
The relay fund raising can be followed at www.relayforlife.org/fairfieldcosc. Donations, memorials, luminary orders, sponsor forms and checks can be mailed to Relay for Life Fairfield County, Andre Shepherd, 204 Stonemark Lane, Columbia, SC 29216.
For more information, contact Shepherd at 760-0172 or committee member and Relay for Life volunteer Stacy Pearson at 633-6615. Volunteer Earnest Manning rallied the crowd and encouraged them to make the relay this year even better than the successful effort of a year ago.
The kickoff event was a success with volunteers at the First Church of the Nazarene preparing over 200 spaghetti plates. Survivors ate free at the event.