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UCHS students speak out during Relay For Life event

Students at Unicoi County High School held a kickoff last week for the first-ever Mini Relay For Life event set for Friday, May 13.
Going with the Relay For Life’s national theme, “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back,” the students organized the program with three speakers from Unicoi County.
UCHS senior Nick Rogers spoke for the ‘celebrate’ portion of the program. Rogers was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non Hodkins T-Cell Lymphoma in April of 2007. Rogers is now celebrating his victory against cancer and inspiring others to join him in the fight.
“Relay was such a great support system for me,” Rogers said. “And the people at ACS were able to help my high school friends cope with what was happening to me. Those special friends that visited me daily are the reason I was inspired to fight so hard.”
He encouraged the students to get involved with Relay.
“Until there is a cure, continue to Relay because cancer never rests,” he said.
Following Rogers, Sandy Williams spoke for the remember portion of the program. She spoke about her son, Garrett, who was a UCHS student who passed away with cancer late last year. Williams encouraged the students to support the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life so that no one else has to lose someone to the disease.
Local pastor Kevin Laws spoke for the Fight Back section of the kickoff. He explained to the students the major strides that have been made in cancer research because of the American Cancer Society, including a more than 95 percent cure rate of his type of cancer. Laws’ son Corbin was also diagnosed with cancer at only one-week-old. They are both now cancer-free.
UCHS junior Ivory Shelton, who is serving on the Relay’s committee as the team development chair, challenged students to get involved.
“Cancer reminds us that everyday is a gift,” Shelton told the student body. “Hope is represented in each survivor. There are survivors here today that have faced the beast, fought the fight and won the battle. There are those who continue to fight, those of have just entered the fight, and those who to continue to hope.
“I hope that something said or done today has inspired each and every one of you to either start a team or join one,” she said.
Austin Finch, a senior and student body president, was pleased with the response from students.
“It was an overwhelming success and excellent response,” Finch said. “The students showed a lot of support and were really respectful to the guest speakers. I am really glad our school could do something to honor cancer survivors.”
Logan Higgins will serve as the committee’s luminaria chair.
“Emotions were high during the assembly,” Higgins said. “I was very proud to be a part of such an inspiring event event.”
UCHS senior Michael Baker, who is the co-chair for the event, as well as the youth chair for the Relay For Life of Unicoi County, was thrilled to be heading up the inaugural event at the school.
“I Relay for all of the people that have won their battle with cancer, for those who lost their battle, and finally to fight back against the disease,” Baker said. “As youth chair my goal was to inform my classmates about what happens at a Relay For Life event, and what the fine people at the American Cancer Society do for people right here in Unicoi County.”
Following the program students were given an opportunity to sign up for teams and they will continue sign-ups throughout the week. The UCHS event will be held on Friday, May 13, beginning at 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 14.
According to the American Cancer Society staff the event was a tremendous success with several teams already forming.
“I was so proud of the students for putting together this awesome program,” Anthony Piercy, staff partner with the American Cancer Society said. “It was so inspiring to see them embrace Relay like they have. They are truly making a difference in many lives all over our region — and the world.”
The Relay For Life of Unicoi County will be held on Friday, June 3, from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 4.
In addition to Baker, Finch, Shelton and Higgins, other committee members are: Noél Bailey, logistics; Toody Tolley, survivorship; and Allen Williams, activities and entertainment.
For more information about these events or American Cancer Society please call Piercy at 330-7884 or e-mail [email protected]