Relay for Life hoping to close donations gap

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2012

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
While Rowan County Relay for Life is $56,000 short of its fundraising goal this year, the organization is using the same determination that keeps researchers on the trail of a cure for cancer to help close the gap.
The 2012 Relay for Life Goal is $410,000. Contributions so far are $354,000. That prompted volunteers to engineer a strong late push.
“It is what we have to do,” said Tisha Goodwin, a past Relay chairwoman and current entertainment chairwoman. “Who can say that the cure for cancer is not in the amount that we are short?”
Relay for Life started in Rowan in 1995, and this year will be the first time that late events have been scheduled.
“Any donations received by Aug. 15 will be counted in this year’s total. We made the 2011 goal of $401,000, and we will do everything we can to finish out 2012 strong,” said Goodwin.
Tommy Kimball, Rowan Relay chairman from 2001 to 2004, knows the importance of the Cancer Society’s work.
“My dad died after getting prostate cancer, and his doctors never thought to require a PSA test until it was too late,” he said. “We know so much more about it now.”
Kimball, now a prostate cancer survivor himself, has also survived a bout with melanoma. His wife is now cancer-free after surviving transitional bladder cancer originally found in a kidney. They lost son Todd to renal cell carcinoma.
“Cancer took Todd in two years, but now research has made it possible for someone with the same disease to lead a much more comfortable and productive life for 10 or 11 years.”
Goodwin gives Kimball credit for making Relay for Life a big success in Rowan County.
“After we lost our son, I just didn’t care,” Kimball said. “I decided to attend a meeting one evening, and the speaker told me about losing his wife to cancer. When I asked him why he was so passionate about Relay, he told me that he didn’t want others to suffer the same loss that he had. That got me thinking. My goal was to let people know about Relay. They had to know about it before they could get involved.”
Kimball believes in cancer research and thus helping to fund the American Cancer Society.
“Just look at how many times research has helped those around me,” he said. “New drugs are being developed that make a real difference. Simply, we have to do our part to continue that research. Our work here in Rowan does matter.”
While there are many successful survivor stories in the area, Tabitha Smith is one of the best known. She was diagnosed with leukemia at 3 years old and spent the next nine months at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
“I remember my parents telling me that the whole world was praying for me, but I also remember having to get shots every day. Like any other kid, I was really scared, but I knew they were trying to help me,” she said.
Now 13, Tabitha will enter Carson High School as a freshman in August. She played both volleyball and basketball at China Grove Middle School and is a huge Relay for Life supporter.
“I am a 10-year survivor now. All that matters is that I am healthy and alive and that I can share my story and encourage others,” she said. “I don’t want them to give up hope. Never give up.”
Major events have been scheduled as Relay for Life fundraisers on the three weekends before the Aug. 15 cutoff. They are:
• On Friday, Relay for Life will hold a barbecue fundraiser at 5310 N.C. 152 E. near Rockwell. The site is approximately 6 miles from Interstate 85. Watch for signs. Dinners will be available for $8 each, and orders can be placed by calling Cindy Miller at 704-647-9560 or emailing her at Meals will include barbecued half-chicken, bread, slaw, baked beans and dessert. Orders for 10 or more can be delivered. Dinners will be ready for pickup by 11 a.m.
• On Aug. 4, the Salisbury Shag Club will have its 17th Annual Charity Golf Tournament at Corbin Hills. Entry fee is $50 per person which includes greens and cart fees, a barbecue dinner, beverage tickets and prizes. Cash prizes will be given to the top three teams. Contact Gary Bradshaw at 704-680-7518.
• The Shakin’ the Lake Poker Run will be held Aug. 11 from noon until 5:30 PM. The first and last stops will be at the High Rock Boat and Ski Club. $50 includes two poker hands, two armbands, a pig pickin’ and entertainment by Right Turn Clyde. Call Mike at 704-202-0164, Becky at 704-239-5563, or Kevin at 704-202-5408.
Tabitha Smith said she wants to work the fundraisers and is happy to tell people why she supports Relay for Life.
“I haven’t gone one day without thinking what would have happened if I had not won my battle with cancer,” she said. “God let me live so I could tell everyone my story, and he let me live so I could be who I am today.”
For general information or to make a donation, contact Cindy Miller at 704-647-9560.