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Relay raises nearly $120,000

Hundreds of people filled Sparkman Civic Center Friday night for the 6th annual Hartselle Relay for Life. | Clif Knight

Hope for success in the fight against cancer was escalated Friday night when hundreds of people filled Sparkman Civic Center to celebrate with cancer survivors and remember family members and friends who lost their lives while battling the dreaded disease.

They came to participate in the 6th annual Hartselle Relay for Life, a fundraiser for cancer research.

Some 35 teams were involved in the project, raising $118,505, or about $10,000 under a goal of $128,000. Even as the weather-shortened event neared its midnight climax, team members remained active seeking donations in quest of the goal.

One of the teams was manned by Hartselle High School students. They were raising money in memory of one of their schoolmates, Tiffany Coffman, a sophomore who died of cancer just a few weeks ago.

Team Tigers joined the fundraiser in honor of Tonya Parker, who is a two- and one-half year survivor.

“My daughter and her friends got this started two years ago,” Parker stated. “I’m so thankful for what they’ve done. It lifts my hope that a cure for cancer will be found.”

Donna Brown said she was walking in the relay in memory of a daughter she lost to cancer in 2010. She was a member of Cure Crusaders.

“Everyone is upbeat and having a good time,” said relay chairperson Theresa McGhee. “We have a big crowd of supporters even though we’re in a smaller venue than what was originally planned.

The relay was delayed for three weeks because of the April 17 storms and was moved from J.P. Cain Stadium to the civic center because of rain earlier in the week.

“I think it’s great for the people of our community and surrounding areas to come together in support of a good cause,” McGhee stated. We share each others experiences in the battle against cancer and we become friends.

A special moment during the relay was the lighting of over 1,000 luminaries, each one given in honor or memory of a family member or friend.

At midnight, Boys Scout Troop 336 and Cub Scout Pack 92 fed breakfast to a large number of relay participants.

The Relay will continue to accept donations through August, after which the 2012 Relay will begin, McGhee said.