It didn’t take long for Ady Brickhouse to realize she had more friends than she perhaps expected as she attended the East Wake Relay for Life for the first time on Friday.
The 3-year-old leukemia survivor found herself riding high on the shoulders of Shannon Speller just minutes into the local American Cancer Society fundraiser. She garnered VIP treatment from the crowd as she helped lead the pack of cancer survivors in their designated lap around the track behind Five County Stadium.
“She thinks she’s royalty out here because people already follow her Facebook page and just seemed to know who she is, so she just felt right at home,” said Ady’s mother, Karryn Brickhouse of Zebulon.
Ady was certainly the youngest and was among the newest of survivors at Relay, having been diagnosed in May of 2014.
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“She went straight into chemo and all the stuff that comes with cancer and we spent a great amount of time in a hospital,” Karryn Brickhouse said. “She is in remission and is in a maintenance phase and has to take chemo every day and monthly lumbar punctures and over chemo at Duke Children’s Hospital.”
The Brickhouses participated in the weekend event as part of the Kid Strong team, formed in support of Ady and her friend Brooke Hines, 9, who also was diagnosed last year with bone cancer. Their first Relay was a particularly entertaining one, thanks to a competition between the co-captains of two Relay teams.
PACEr’s team leaders Bobbi Jane Duke and Speller topped Pirates of the CURE-ibbean leaders Allison Klepchick and Kathe Schaecher in a fundraising battle that began in March. The results – PACEr’s, $1,320; Pirates, $455 – were not made known even to the captains until Friday evening, when the runners-up agreed to enter an inflatable swimming pool filled with cooked noodles and fish for crowns to place on the winners’ heads.
“We told you we knew we weren’t losing,” a crowned Duke said. “We don’t look good in noodles. I was very relieved not to get in them.”
The often sarcastic Klepchick emerged from the pool impressed by how smooth her skin was and how shiny her hair was.
“The noodles felt so good – I truly thank the person who put olive oil in the noodles,” she said. “It was so close and we worked so hard. I want a recount on the $900 difference.”
In all, 21 teams and 541 individuals raised $84,430 for the fight against cancer through Sunday. This year’s goal is $116,500, just more than the local Relay raised in 2014. The teams have from now through the end of August to run down their goal.
Vickie Curtis, an event leader, had hoped for greater attendance than the Relay drew Friday but was otherwise pleased to see ideal weather and the experience enjoyed by those who did make it out.
“It’s always fun when you come to a Relay event to renew old friendships with people you may only see once a year, at this event,” Curtis said. “It pulls at your heart strings to see the (luminaria) bags and torches of those who have lost the fight, but it also thrills your heart to see the survivors as they take their lap of victory.”