All the ingredients for a good time were in place.
And that’s exactly what the East Wake Relay for Life’s annual dinner for cancer survivors supplied at Wendell Baptist Church Thursday evening.
A crowd of about 250 swarmed the church’s fellowship hall to partake in a home-cooked meal, followed by music and informational and motivational speeches.
It was a time for the local Relay veterans to come together and welcome new cancer survivors to the family. It went about as smoothly as any before.
“This welcomes those new survivors to help them realize there are others walking their same road and that we’re all there to support them as much as we can,” said East Wake Relay chair Vickie Curtis. “This was probably one of our better Survivor Dinners. We had a lot of comments to that effect as people left.”
Much like the Relay itself, which is slated for May 30-31 at Five County Stadium, the Survivor Dinner saw emotional times on both end of the spectrum. Relay organizers saw the attendees off on the good end of that gamut, closing the event with a tear-jerking performance by local comic Lou Ann Lester.
Curtis said the positive conclusion was a major role player in the success of the night.
“People come and realize folks that were there last year are not there this year as well as the joy of those that are still here,” Curtis said. “And the sadness that there are more (cancer survivors), which is a good thing that they’re surviving but a bad thing we’ve got more people who have cancer.
“What we were tying to accomplish was to deal with all those emotions and send people out with a happy, positive tone rather than that of sadness and loss.”
Before that mission was accomplished, keynote speaker Patsy Narron offered inspiration on caregiving. She told her family story, of how her mother and sister had passed away within months of one another in recent years.
Narron’s sister had moved in with their mother to serve as caregiver for eight years before their mother died just days before the 2012 Relay. It was an act of selflessness that continues to inspire Narron. She used it as an example to remind caregivers in the room of the difference they make in the lives of others.
“Each and every one of you in this room is a caregiver and has been a caregiver at some point in your life,” Narron said. “You may also be a cancer survivor, but you have also been a caregiver. ... All of you continue to do what you do and give the love.”
With the Survivor Dinner behind them and the main event just two weeks away, Relay organizers are asking for the Eastern Wake County community’s full support.
“We are gearing up to blow the top out of this Relay,” Curtis said. “We still have fundraisers going on, but our focus is May 30.
“We need the community to mark their calendars to support our survivors by coming out to the event for good food in a good family environment – a smoke-, alcohol- and pet-free environment.”
Attendees of this year’s Relay can expect to see some of the more popular attractions from recent years, like a dunking booth and bounce houses for children.
The theme this year is Rings of Hope; Relay teams are expected to have Olympic-themed activities at their booths.