The mascots of the teams at the center of South Carolina’s greatest sports rivalry led the fans of the teams they represent in putting aside their differences and joining forces in the fight against cancer Friday night.
The Union County Stadium was the site of the 2012 American Cancer Society Relay For Life “Celebration of Life” event that began Friday evening and ended Saturday morning. The annual event brings together people from all walks of life in Union County in the fight against cancer. The all-night event features ceremonies honoring those who have survived their battle with cancer, those who have raised money to aid in that battle, the caregivers of those who have and who are waging that battle, and those who have lost that battle.
The unity in face of a common enemy was symbolized by the coming together of the Clemson Tiger and University of South Carolina Gamecock to help get the evening started.
“A great event is one way to describe it,” Relay For Life Co-Chair Torance Inman said Monday of Friday’s activities. “There was a large turnout of people from all over the county. Our visitors from other places such as the Kickin’ Grass Band from Raleigh, NC, as well as American Cancer Society staff partners and Relay chairs from other counties were impressed with the event and how it pulled together young and old, black and white, schools and churches in the fight against cancer.
“Our opening ceremony and Survivor’s Lap was led by both the Clemson and South Carolina mascots and was one of the highlights of the event,” he said. “They led some 150 cancer survivors to begin the relay.”
Inman said the coming together of the Clemson and Carolina mascots and the fans of both teams was in keeping with the motto of this year’s Relay For Life.
“Our overall motto this year was ‘When it comes to fighting cancer, we are all on the same team,’” Inman said.
In addition the Survivor’s Lap honoring those have survived their battle with cancer, the evening also featured a Remembrance Ceremony honoring the memory of those who did not.
“This year’s Remembrance Ceremony was one of the best we have ever experienced,” Inman said. “Dora Palka led the silent lap, carrying the Remembrance Flag in memory of her late husband Ted who lost his battle with cancer only a few months ago.”
Relay For Life is an annual fund raising effort led by the American Cancer Society to raise funds to support cancer research and treatment efforts. Local communities organize their own events with groups, clubs, churches and other organizations forming teams that hold their own fund raising efforts. The teams then pool together the funds they raised to meet their annual goal which this year is $100,000.
Inman said Monday that as of that afternoon, a total of $94,000 had been raised. He said he was confident that the goal would soon be met.
“As of Monday we have collected $94,000 toward our $100,000 goal,” Inman said. “Once all our teams turn in the remainder of their funds we should easily reach $100,000.”
There were 32 teams representing 37 groups who participated in this year’s Relay For Life effort. The teams made laps around the track throughout the night with at least one member awake at all times symbolizing the fight against cancer, an enemy that never sleeps.
The event ended Saturday morning with a ceremony in which teams who embodied the spirit of Relay For Life were honored.
“At the closing of our event we acknowledged those teams who exemplified the spirit of Relay,” Inman said. “Some 17 teams were awarded the Spirit of Relay Banner. We also recognized the Best Veterans Teams and Best Newcomers Teams in four categories: Best Campsite, Best Banner, Best Theme, and Most Money Raised.”
The Best Veterans Teams were:
Campsite — Bogansville United Methodist Church
Banner — Buffalo United Methodist Church
Theme — Grace United Methodist Church
Most Money Raised — Dollar General
The Best Newcomers Teams were:
Campsite — Red Spot
Banner — Youth Leadership Union County
Theme — Arthur State Bank Junior Board of Directors Cancer Slayers
Most Money Raised — Arthur State Bank Junior Board of Directors Cancer Slayers