Community unites at Relay for Life
by Kellen Moore
For five and a half years she cared for her son, Ted, as he lived with melanoma. She joined him for hospital visits and drove him to breakfast every day when he could no longer drive.
She was right by Ted's side until his death, 12 years ago in May. The loss of a child hit Presnell hard.
I can tell you there's nothing, nothing like it, she said.
That very year, Presnell started fundraising, and since that date, she has been the top individual fundraiser about 10 times, she said. She also is often the top team fundraiser, although she's a team of one.
She estimates she has raised about $180,000 for the American Cancer Society in those 12 years. Her best year was the fourth year, she recalls, when she brought in about $16,800.
For Presnell, Relay for Life has become a tradition and an opportunity to try to reduce the number of people who have to endure the same ordeal. You never know when a cure may be found, she said.
I guess it's the only thing that really brought me through what I went through, she said.
Presnell and hundreds of others gathered again Friday night at Watauga High School for the 18th annual Relay for Life to share their experiences together and encourage one another to keep up the fight.
Before the event began Friday, 42 teams had already raised about $119,000, said treasurer Brian Barker. He said the fundraising was slow getting started but picked up dramatically at the end. Fundraising will continue until the end of August, he said.
Participants enjoyed live music, clogging, games, food and a busy dunking booth as the night continued, intermingled with events recognizing cancer survivors, their caregivers and others whose lives have been touched by the deplorable disease.
As volunteers placed glowsticks into the luminaria bags at dusk, the stadium took on a quieter but optimistic air. Dozens of luminarias were positioned to spell I am hope on the bleachers.
Every bag has a name, which represents someone that we love and cherish, committee member Sharon Trivette told the caregivers, who walked a celebratory lap around the track.
As each of those names was honored or remembered Friday, those who attended reflected on the ways their lives were affected by cancer.
Dale Allred of Valle Crucis said he delights in celebrating the continued life of his wife, Betty, a cancer survivor.
It's a wonderful thing, Allred said. We're thankful for every day she's with us.