The start of something big in Ballantyne

by Morgan Smith

People can purchase Luminaria bags for $10 in honor or memory of their loved ones who were touched by cancer. Go to www.relayforlife.org/ballantyne for more information. Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society

Lisa Trevathan and her family are true testaments to the importance of cancer research and support.

Coming from a family where cancer has taken the lives of both of her parents, and where thyroid cancer even threatened her own, Trevathan was thrilled when she saw an advertisement for the inaugural Relay For Life event in Ballantyne. And with 11 years cancer-free this month, and a close friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Trevathan said the event couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I participated (in Relay For Life) in Ohio for several years as a team member and a team captain, and then we moved away and hadn’t really got back into it,” she said. Now that Relay For Life will be in Ballantyne, Trevathan said she can bring an old family tradition back to life. “My kids, husband and I are all doing Relay together.”

Trevathan is the team captain for Café of Hope, which has 17 members that plan to walk, sell hot dogs and baked goods and raffle off specialty baskets at Friday’s event at the Morrison Family YMCA, 9405 Bryant Farms Road.

“We’re just coming together to raise as much money as we can to fight this awful, awful disease,” she added.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event. Prevalent in communities all over the United States, the event exists to celebrate cancer survivors and fight back against the disease itself. Christy Orr, event development manager for Relay For Life in Charlotte, is in charge of starting new Relay For Life events in communities across the region.

“I saw Ballantyne as a huge opportunity,” she said. “Unfortunately, cancer has touched so many people. We want to show people that they are not alone in this and there are people fighting for them.”

Preparation for the event began last summer, Orr said, starting with recruitment of a committee and team captains, as well as fundraising events like car washes and sponsorships. So far, the event’s 19 teams of 205 participants have raised more than $28,000. Orr said after the main event, the group is anticipating $35,000 total to be donated to the American Cancer Society. Different teams consist of various community members such as Ardrey Kell High School students, local businesses such as SouthPark Acupuncture, and the largest team called Power of Paul, which consists of 38 people walking in memory of Paul Jackson, band director from Providence High School who died in February after a long battle with cancer.

The event, which kicks off Friday, May 25, at 6 p.m. and runs 12 hours until 6 a.m. the next morning, is based around honoring, remembering and supporting people who have been touched by cancer and will kick-off with a lap honoring cancer survivors.

“Anybody who has heard the words ‘you have cancer’ are invited to register on our website,” and participate in the first lap, Orr said. “It’s beyond emotional because people are either in remission or are currently going through treatment.”

The second lap is for caregivers of cancer patients, whether past, present or future, and joins the two groups together. By lap three, everyone is invited to join in. There also will be a special Luminaria bags ceremony at 9 p.m., where people will honor or remember their loved ones who were touched by cancer.

Orr said Relay For Life looks different for each community, but most seem to have a festival-type atmosphere, equipped with hot dogs, corn hole, t-shirt tie-dyeing and other kids’ carnival games, as well as music and other live entertainment.

“It’s really designed to keep everyone entertained,” Orr added.

People can still register or donate money by visiting the event website, www.relayforlife.org/ballantyne. A $10 commitment fee is required to join or start a team, although Orr said there is no cost for community members and families who want to visit the event to learn more.

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