Relay for Life of Ballantyne, a national grassroots fundraising initiative that involves individuals and teams of participants walking around a track overnight to celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer, will be held at the Morrison YMCA on May 31.
All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. The Ballantyne Relay for Life is one of the biggest fundraisers, with more than $50,000 projected in donations this year.
The Relay for Life event kicks off with a Survivors’ Lap at 6 p.m. Survivors, defined as anyone who has heard the words, “You have cancer,” join together to take relay’s opening lap while the rest of the event participants and volunteers surround the track and cheer them on.
The event also includes speakers, performers, activities and food that last the entire night.
This year, the survivors are also being honored the preceding night with an inaugural Survivor Dinner on May 30 at South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church. Kathy Hudspeth, the chairwoman of the Survivorship Committee that’s spearheading this year’s dinner, wants to offer survivors an evening of “fellowship, hope, and celebration.”
Hudspeth, 49, is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with carcinoid cancer (a neuroendocrine cancer) of her small intestine and lymph nodes in 2009.
“I am living with cancer,” she says, “so this is a cause that is dear to me.”
She hopes to share her own positive attitude with the survivors who attend the dinner.
“I want to celebrate their courage,” she says, “and give them strength to keep going.”
With that in mind, she has arranged for inspirational speakers and performances as well as door prizes and a photographer. Everything for the dinner is donated, including food from Pineville restaurants Rotelli, Buca di Peppo and Matthews restaurants The Olive Garden, Carrabba’s and Hops.
The survivors comprise the core of the evening’s inspirational program.
“My goal is to promote fellowship among people who are fighting with the same purpose,” Hudspeth says. “Each survivor is an inspiration to another.”
Hudspeth also hopes to highlight and applaud caregivers during the evening’s festivities. Each survivor is encouraged to attend with a caregiver. Hudspeth’s hope is that both survivors and caregivers will leave feeling celebrated and encouraged.
And that they will feel inspired to attend the Relay for Life the following night.
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Do you have a story idea for Katya? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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