High Country Association of REALTORS News

Things to do on a weekend - Watauga County Relay for Life

Relay for Life in Watauga County is more than a cancer research fundraiser. It's part social event, part celebration of lives; encouraging those now fighting cancer and remembering those who have been lost to it. More than 40 relay teams are taking part in this year's event, which begins tonight at Watauga High School.

There will be live music. Kids activities. Dancing. Sleepovers. Food. All the usual ingredients to a community events. What distinguishes Relay from other gatherings is the luminaries - candles lit in remembrance of a lost loved one - and the Survivors lap - the first trip around the track by those who have defeated cancer and those batteling it now.

Paula Ward started Watauga's first Relay team more than 10 years ago, forming Jerry’s Intimidators to honor her father. It's now a huge fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Since Ward started the first local Relay for Life, local teams have raised anywhere between $200,000 and $300,00 annually. Funds raised in Watauga County are used in multiple ways with a large percentage going to cancer research in such institutions as Duke and Wake Forest University. Other funds are used in local cancer programs like the Road To Recovery, Reach For Recovery and Man To Man, all programs sponsored by the American Cancer Society and designed to meet the needs of cancer patients.

The theory behind the Relay is simple. During a 24-hour period, teams have at least one member active walking a lap on the track. Team tents - many decorated - border the track. There's music and dance, and a kids activity area until dark. Once the sun disappears, luminaries are lit. Few events are as moving as a walk in a dark interrupted by candles named for friends and family.

Watauga County Relay for Life