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Relay teams step forward in battle against cancer

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
[email protected]
Despite rainy weather, the Relay For Life event held in Unicoi County on Friday raised more than $15,000 for the American Cancer Society. Thirty-four teams have raised money for the cause this year, bringing the total to around $55,000 so far.
Event organizers say that they still have a way to go before meeting the campaign goal for 2012.
“We are so appreciative of the support we receive in Unicoi County year after year,” said Cindy Lewis, the event’s volunteer chairperson. “We have to raise about $30,000 more before the end of August, but with all of the teams pitching in we believe we can meet our goals.”
One team at the Relay called “Fight 4 Mike” wore bright green shirts in honor of the late Mike Clouse, who was a Unicoi County Relay For Life staple.
Clouse built the archway under which many who share the effects of cancer have walked together in fellowship on the track.
“It’s just one way Mike gave back to the Relay For Life community,” said Josh Tipton, Clouse’s brother-in-law.
Tipton said Clouse participated last year while he was in the late stages of non-hodgkins lymphoma, and no one could ever tell he was in pain. It was days after the 2011 Relay that Clouse was readmitted to the hospital. He died at the age of 42 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.
“He was very passionate about Relay For Life,” said Tipton.
The steering committee gave an award in honor of Clouse during the opening ceremony: the Mike Clouse Hope Award was presented to his son, Max.
“We’re very honored and humbled,” Tipton said. “My position is that I saw what my sister went through for the six months Mike was in the hospital and how she fought.”
Tipton’s reason for attending the Relay is the same reason many others were in attendance. The Relay provides a place for those affected by cancer to witness the county level impact and to support one another.
For the remainder of this article please pick up the June 5, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record.