Cabot Relay for Life gives community chance to give back

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published April 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 19, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.
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Northside Elementary School KKids, from the left, Isabel Carpenter, Lauren Hubbard, Savanna Hamm, Aiden Hamp and Emily Hunt pose with signs during a fundraiser for their Relay for Life team at Larry’s Pizza in Cabot on April 11.

— Deanna Carpenter, Cabot’s Relay for Life volunteer chairwoman for the 2013 event, said she is attempting to make this year’s relay bigger than it’s ever been.

“I’m trying to make this event a big, fun party,” Carpenter said.

Relay for Life is an event that more than 4 million people in more than 20 countries take part in to raise funds and awareness about cancer, the event’s website states.

Carpenter said this is her first year to participate in the event in Cabot, but she is excited to share her passion for Relay for Life in a new location.

“It has a really big place in my heart,” Carpenter said.

This year’s theme is “Heroes for Hope.” At the relay, teams have campsites where they will be stationed for the all-night event.

“We’re celebrating people who we know that have or had cancer,” Carpenter said. “Every campsite decorates to celebrate their own hero.”

Carpenter said her site will be decorated to honor her aunt, who had lung cancer.

“She was a big deer hunter,” Carpenter said. “We’re decorating in camouflage and deer-hunting stuff.”

Carpenter is originally from Jacksonville, but she moved to Nashville, Tenn., where she worked with cancer support groups and helped with health fairs in the city. She said the American Cancer Society has a special place in her heart.

Relay for Life gives everyone in the community an opportunity to help, Carpenter said.

Northside Elementary School’s organization, KKids, and Cabot High School’s National Honor Society hosted a pizza night at Larry’s Pizza on April 11 to raise money for their Relay teams. At this event, students served pizza, refilled drinks and bused tables in the restaurant.

“[KKids] teaches kids how to be community servants,” Carpenter said.

The children in the elementary school’s organization range from second- to fourth-graders. Both the National Honor Society and KKids have teams in this year’s Relay for Life event.

“The teams made about $600 that night,” Carpenter said.

The event will be at Cabot High School’s football field on May 3. The event will kick off with a “survivor” dinner at the Cabot High School Field House, and the participants will be taken to the football field at 6 p.m.

“All of the survivors take the first lap [together],” Carpenter said.

One person from each team walks on the track all night long.

“It’s symbolic of a cancer patient’s journey through treatment,” Carpenter said. “[When the event concludes], it’s the beginning of a new day.”

Seventeen teams have signed up for the event, but Carpenter said there is still time to get a team together.

“My personal goal was to have 20 teams,” Carpenter said.

Everything for this year’s event has been donated, so Carpenter said every dollar the teams raise will go to the American Cancer Society.

“This year’s fundraising goal is $15,000,” Carpenter said. “We’ve already raised a little over $4,000, and the event hasn’t even happened yet.”

Carpenter’s favorite part of Relay for Life is the luminarias, which honor survivors and people who have lost their battle with cancer.

“We sell a white bag and fill it with sand and put candles in them,” Carpenter said.

Names of people who are being honored are written on those bags, and at dusk, all of the lights are turned off, Carpenter said, and the candles are lit, and every name is read aloud.

“It’s a beautiful reminder of why we relay,” Carpenter said. “You get bogged down in a lot of fundraising, but that puts faces on what we’re asking for money for.”

To sign up for Cabot’s Relay for Life, go to relayforlife.org and find the “Relay for Life of Lonoke-Cabot” event.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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