By Katelyn Robertson, Editor
It is said that hope floats and, considering the amount of rain that fell in Belton recently, it’s a good thing it does.
For the more than 300 people that came to the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday, May 18 to attend the Relay for Life Central Bell County, hope was indeed the reason.
Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser of the American Cancer Society. The 12-hour event is held in cities across the country each year as a way to raise money and awareness for cancer research and treatment. For many, it is so much more than a fundraiser. At each event, cancer survivors and their families are recognized, and time is dedicated to remembering those lost to the disease.
Despite the thunderstorms, event coordinators were more than happy with the turnout.
“It was an incredible turnout,” community development manager Ashley Armstrong said. “The weather was certainly crazy, and we are so thankful we were indoors!”
With dark clouds looming over the Expo Center and the threat of severe storms in the area, 14 teams set up camp inside, offering fun activities and decorating their areas to fit the Mardi Gras celebration theme of the event. Colorful outfits and accessories could be seen as team members walked the loop around the event room throughout the afternoon and into the night.
Although much of the fundraising associated with Relay for Life is done by teams prior to the event, a silent auction, raffles, and a cake walk added to the on-site fundraising efforts.
According to Armstrong, $56,579 was raised by the participants.
“There is important work being done today, and more to be done tomorrow,” Armstrong said. “None of our patient support programs, research, advocacy, or education would be possible without the backing of the community.”
Team Jace was among the participating teams at the event. Team Jace walked to honor the memory of Jace Jefferson, who was just 12 years old when he lost his courageous fight with cancer in 2016. The Belton Youth Baseball complex was named in Jace’s memory earlier this spring. Jace’s was a fight that no child should face, and one his family and loved ones are working dedicatedly to put an end to through fundraising efforts and spreading awareness.
“Our mission is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer- and both the event leadership team and the American Cancer Society are so thankful for the opportunities to be of service that are awarded to us by Central Bell County’s support,” Armstrong said.
The community definitely made a significant impact and the money raised will go to an important cause, but the memories of loved ones and battles fought that were honored throughout the event are what will remain in the hearts of those in attendance.