- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Cancer is a killer, but every year hundreds of those affected by the disease gather to help kill cancer.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life seeks to provide a way to fight the disease in a way that unites the community.
When Linda McLaughlin, a French teacher at North Point High School, first moved to Charles County from North Carolina in 2005, she was surprised to find that the Relay for Life event in the county only drew a very small following.
“At the first relay I attended, there were only about 65 to 70 teams, which seemed small to me,” said McLaughlin, a survivor of melanoma. “I’ve seen it grow a lot here since I first got involved.”
McLaughlin is also the National Honor Society sponsor at North Point, and coordinates the school’s Relay for Life team. When she first became involved in Charles County, the event was held at La Plata High School, but now that facility’s size is no longer adequate for the event, which has been held at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf for the last few years.
McLaughlin now serves as the coordinator for the event in the county. One hundred and one teams are involved in the 2012 Relay for Life, with more than 1,200 participants and $209,936 raised as of Tuesday.
One team participating in this year’s Relay for Life is the National Junior Honor Society chapter from Matthew Henson Middle School in Indian Head. Debbie Holder, a language arts teacher at Henson, is participating as a team member, as she has in previous years.
Holder walks this year for her brother, Randall Gillum, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in August.
“They brought him in for surgery, and the cancer was worse than they thought,” Holder said. “By the time they went to operate, the cancer had already begun to spread to his other organs. He’s still fighting it. ... He’s done very well so far, and we’re very grateful for that.”
Holder said the support of the community has been invaluable in aiding her brother’s fight, and by walking at the Relay for Life she hopes to help others.
“Relay for Life helps people who’ve gone through all kinds of cancer,” Holder said. “There’s so much the event does for the community. It’s great seeing how involved the kids get and how the community is so supportive.”
McLaughlin emphasized the importance of the community’s continued support.
“We would like to see more teams get involved in years to come, but this number is definitely good,” McLaughlin said. “Relay for Life is a celebration of life. We celebrate with those who have fought the disease, those who have survived it and their caregivers, but we also commemorate those who have lost the battle ... there’s a chance that dollar you raise can be the dollar that ends up being the cure for cancer.”
If you go
The Charles County Relay for Life will begin at 4:30 p.m. May 11 and will conclude at 6 a.m. May 12 at Regency Furniture Stadium, 11765 St. Linus Drive, Waldorf.
Relay for Life will begin with a survivor’s reception at 4:30 p.m. followed by opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Other events will be held throughout the course of the evening and will conclude with a closing ceremony and awards at 6 a.m.
For more information or to register, go to charlescountyrelay.org.