Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Relay teams hope to close in on goal $65,548

More than 20 teams have raised $65,548.32 as of last week’s annual Relay For Life of Unicoi County, which was held Friday, June 3.
In its 11th year in Unicoi County, the Relay For Life drew a crowd of hundreds who walked around the track throughout Friday night and into Saturday morning to signify that cancer is an ongoing battle that never sleeps.
Teams set up booths with baked goods, drinks, merchandise and a variety of other treats and trinkets for sale in order to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and cancer research.
Top teams at this year’s event included Mission: Possible, captained by Anthony Piercy, which raised $17,564; Blue Nation Warriors, captained by Renea Jones-Rogers, which raised $9,108; and NN, Inc., captained by Donna McKinney, which raised $9,020.
Keeping with tradition, cancer survivors took the first lap around the track Friday evening. Former Erwin resident Bruce Shawver, who moved to Clarksville last June, returned to take his first lap as a cancer survivor in Unicoi County.
“This is where I got involved with the (American) Cancer Society,” Shawver said. “I could have taken my first lap in Montgomery County, but I was diagnosed here and I wanted to make my first survivor lap in Unicoi County.”
Shawver was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2009 and completed his final treatment in 2010 just prior to moving away from Unicoi County. He has been an active supporter of the American Cancer Society since the mid-1980s.
Shawver and his wife, Carol, were instrumental in the success of the Relay for Life when it first began in Unicoi County in 2000. Prior to the Relay, the couple worked with ACS annually on the “Grocers Fight Cancer” event at White’s (now Hometown IGA) in Erwin.
This year’s Relay teams came up with a variety of themes for their booths, a few of them electing to “go retro.”
That was the case for Wal-Mart’s team, whose colorful, groove-inspired banner read “Wal-Mart in the ‘70s.” Team captain Pennie Keplinger said one of her teammates would be dressed as Elvis and would be making appearances throughout the night. She said the team, now in its fourth year, began fundraising efforts for this year’s event in April.
The United Steel Workers of America, Local 9-677 went even further back in time as members of its team donned costumes to portray characters from the Flintstones cartoon. Team captain Wendy Ray said her “Friends for the Fight” team works on fundraising year-round and that they are also now in their fourth year.
Other teams sold sweets and confections of every variety. Unicoi County Memorial Hospital offered candy and drinks at its “Cancer Knows No Color” booth. Team members said the hospital has had a Relay team since the county began holding the event.
Area churches– like Mountain Dale Freewill Baptist – have made efforts to get members of their youth programs involved in the Relay.
Team captain Melissa Tipton, who also serves as the church’s youth Sunday school teacher, said youth from the church came and walked last year and wanted to have a team this year in honor of Terry Bradford, a deacon at the church battling leukemia.
Shannon Parkey, 19, received this year’s Emma Smith Spirit Award for displaying the same energy, spirit and dedication as Smith, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 2003.
Cindy Lewis and Lesley Hughes, co-recipients of the Emma Smith Spirit Award in 2010, presented Parkey with this year’s award.
“Even with the loss of her father to cancer last October, (Shannon) still keeps fighting this battle with us – harder than ever,” Lewis said. “She has worked countless hours on numerous fundraisers and events throughout the year.”
Parkey is a member of the Mission Possible Relay team and has served on the Unicoi County Relay for Life Committee and the Northeast Tennessee Gala Committee for two years. She is the daughter of Doreen and the late Shane Parkey.
Also honored at this year’s Relay event was third-grade student Joseph Greene, of Rock Creek Elementary School, who penned the winning essay and crafted the winning poster in this year’s Relay for Life contests.
From the entertainment stage, Greene read his essay, which focused on lifestyle choices aimed at preventing cancer.
Teams will continue fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society until the end of August, with a goal of reaching $100,000 by that time.
Other participating teams in this year’s Relay for Life included: Angry Nerds, Blue Clue Crew, Fresh Pride, Git-R-Dunners, HOSA Hope, Swinging, The Blue Devil Beta, The Funky Chickens, The Team of Tongues, Treble Makers and UCHS Fine Arts – all from Unicoi County High School.
Other teams included: Brave Hearts, Erwin Health Care Center, First Christian Church, First Tennessee Bank, Freedom Baptist Church, Aarron’s Angels, New Victory Baptist Church, Ninth Street Baptist Church, Papaw’s Warriors, Southside Volunteer Fire Department, Sweetwater Church of God, Team Ashleigh Brooke, The Cross-Walkers and The Erwin Record.