Eastern Wake News

Carolina Mudcats prepare for month of cancer awareness events

From right, American Cancer Society representative Nikki Hastings, East Wake Relay for Life chairwoman Vickie Curtis and co-chair Connie Gay (left) met with Zebulon Public Works Director Chris Ray (center left) and Carolina Mudcats Assistant General Manager Eric Gardner (center right) to recognize the contributions of the town and organization to the 2014 Relay event on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.
From right, American Cancer Society representative Nikki Hastings, East Wake Relay for Life chairwoman Vickie Curtis and co-chair Connie Gay (left) met with Zebulon Public Works Director Chris Ray (center left) and Carolina Mudcats Assistant General Manager Eric Gardner (center right) to recognize the contributions of the town and organization to the 2014 Relay event on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. amoody@newsobserver.com

The Carolina Mudcats have supported the East Wake Relay for Life since 2008, sharing the field behind Five County Stadium and giving the local American Cancer Society fundraiser a place to call home.

This year, the minor league organization is doing more for the local Relay and inviting the Johnston County Relay for Life to join in. It is also building on other cancer-related promotions in May.

A special night for the Relays will be held April 25, during the Mudcats’ home game against the Salem Red Sox. Relay team members have the chance to pre-sell tickets to the game and keep 50 percent of what they sell to benefit their cause.

“Anytime we have someone who’s willing to pair with us in sponsoring our fight to overcome cancer, we are excited about that,” said East Wake Relay event co-leader Vickie Curtis. “Their willingness to partner with us shows their commitment to the community in this effort to fight cancer.”

Eric Gardner, Mudcats general manager of operations, said plans are for a Relay representative to throw out the first pitch and for informational booths for both Relays to be situated in the stadium’s concourse. Depending on participation, there may also be a Relay parade around the field prior to the game.

“We all have been, like everyone, impacted more and more by cancer,” Gardner said. “(Mudcats owner) Steve Bryant and (Vice President) Joe Kremer are older than they were when they started this and so am I – there’s just more people we know who are impacted by cancer. We wanted to to do more to heighten the awareness, to raise funds and to help battle the disease.”

The East Wake Relay is set for May 8-9. The Johnston County Relay is scheduled for June 5-6 at Smithfield-Selma High.

The cancer-awareness theme will continue as the Mudcats hold “Strike Out Cancer Weekend” during the May 15-17 home stand against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

“We’ve never made it a full weekend like we are this year,” Gardner said. “While it’s a little different than the Relay event, the common goal is there to heighten cancer awareness and find the funds to go toward research for a cure.”

Each night will focus on a different charity: the Kay Yow Cancer Fund (fighting women’s cancer) on Friday, the Vs. Cancer Foundation (children’s cancer) on Saturday and Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure (prostate cancer) on Saturday.

Throughout the weekend, Mudcats players will wear jerseys specially designed for the weekend. A jersey will be auctioned off at the conclusion of the weekend, with proceeds being split between the three charities.

The team has invited actor and comedian Will Ferrell to participate in the weekend, but had not heard back from Ferrell as of Sunday, Gardner said.

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