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Lincoln County Relay for Life falls short of goal, still celebrates successes

STANFORD — Lincoln County’s 2018 Relay for Life failed to meet its $95,000 fundraising goal in its fight against cancer.

However, no tears were shed in disappointment.

Despite not being able to reach the goal, organizers were still pleased with all the events Friday night, which carry the tradition of providing cancer survivors and their families with a place to celebrate their successes, remember their challenges and reaffirm their commitment to fighting back, while raising awareness in the next generation — not to mention the thousands of dollars that were raised.

“We celebrate with our survivors, remember those we lost to cancer and we fight back to find a cure for cancer,” Lincoln Relay for Life chair Donya Saylor said. “Our goal this year was $95,000. We raised $75,980.99. Although we did not meet this goal, I am very proud of the amount of money we did raise due to the economy and the times that we live in.”

Inclimate weather may have also factored into the dip in donations this year, with the Glow Walk cancelled due to the weather and poor weather conditions resulting in lower numbers for the 5K Race for a Cure.

The numbers may be down this year, but the Lincoln County community still came up with the donations needed to push the local Relay for Life donation total past the $1.5-million mark.

Saylor credits that accomplishment to the determination of the people of Lincoln County.

“The committee and the teams work very hard all year raising money for such a great cause,” she said. “They are very dedicated and work very long hours to help find a cure for this horrible disease.”

The teams formed to collect donations set up “Relaywood” themed campsites at the event. Many members took turns walking around the makeshift track. Those who were not walking the track continued their fundraising efforts by selling food and goods or offering games and activities.

In addition to the track and campsite sales, the Lincoln County Relay for Life featured vendors, a pie and cake auction and several fun games conducted by the Relay for Life Committee.  

The 21st annual Relay opened with a cardboard testimony — a silent parade where cancer survivors took the stage with a sign noting their name, the type of cancer they battled, with date of diagnosis and how long they’ve survived. Those survivors then walked the first lap of the night.

Later in the evening, a Luminaria Ceremony was held to honor survivors and those who have lost the battle with cancer, with luminaries lining the track and sky lanterns rising into the night sky. A record 47 sky lanterns were lit Friday night.

Prior to the luminary lighting, Sonny Spoonamore of Stanford, who has been battling prostate cancer since November of 2017, was singled out to speak to Relayers about his fight.

“This is for the men here. Women, you’ve got the night off,” Spoonamore, 58, said as he took the microphone. “This is for the hard-headed men here that will not go to the doctor. Just bottom line — I’m one of them. My dad was one of them – cancer killed him. He went three years passing blood and wouldn’t tell anybody.”

“I wasn’t in that shape, but I was having some issues. I had swelling in places where I shouldn’t have, so I went to the doctor.”

Spoonamore’s doctor, Dr. Rod Bates, suggested that he have a physical to help determine what his health issue was. Spoonamore said, “Doc, we just done a physical,” to which Bates responded, “No, it’s been two years.”

After the physical, a blood test and biopsies, Spoonamore heard the word he didn’t want to hear — cancer.

“They (tests) came back bad,” Spoonamore said choking back tears. “My wife, Donna, Amy (Isaacs, daughter) and myself went in and they tell you you’ve got cancer. You don’t want to hear that. I’ve lost my dad with cancer. My mom had cancer at the same time. I took dad for colon cancer one day. Took my mother the next day for chemo.”

“I didn’t want to hear that. But what are you going to do? You can’t run from it,” he said.

After talking with Bates on his options to battle the cancer and speaking with other prostate cancer survivors, Spoonamore felt more at ease with the idea of surgery to combat the disease.

“The more people that I could talk to about what I was going through was what I wanted,” he said. “I would talk to people and say, ‘What did you do? What were your side effects? That helped a lot.”

Spoonamore had surgery in Nashville on Nov. 30. Twelve hours later he was on his way home. Today, he is proud to share his story.

“I am trying to emphasize to men to go (to the doctor),” Spoonamore said. “We don’t go because we think we’re bulletproof. We ain’t. They told me one in three men is going to have colon cancer. Our wives, our girlfriends, our mothers, grandmothers go to the doctor. If you take care of yourself and go, your chances are very, very good of surviving. So men, ‘Go!’”

Several awards were presented following the luminaria ceremony to recognize the teams or individuals raising the most money for Relay.

The award recipients were:

Most money raised overall and by teams

Overall — DecoArt, $15,087.81.
Family and Friends — Cowboys and Angels, first, $5,416.93; Sims Survivors, second, $5,319.06.
Business — PBK Bank, first, $5,580.42; Farmers National Bank, second, $3,112.30.
Church — Stanford Christian Church, first, $7,201.38; Stanford Baptist Church, second, $2,570.40.
Medical — Fort Logan Hospital, first, $6,568.90; Lifeline, second, $908.40.

Most money raised by individuals

Individual — Kendra Smith, $1,600.01.
Youth 13-18 — Bae Bae Smith, $1,036.23.

Other awards

New Beginnings Methodist Church was judged the Best Themed Campsite at the event. Stanford Baptist Church was recognized with the Light the Way to Hope Award for selling the most luminaries ($895). And the Cowboys and Angels team won the Spirit Award.