LUMBERTON — Patsy Conoley is a survivor.
Diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2008, Conoley is now 66 years old, healthy and retired — with a lot to celebrate.
On Friday, as part of her celebration, she will walk laps and lead a team from Red Springs Presbyterian Church at the 19th annual Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that will transform the Robeson County Fairgrounds on N.C. 41 into a mini-city for parts of Friday and Saturday.
The goal this year is to raise $320,000; last year the event raised $318,000. Events such as car washes and bake sales have been held across the county in recent weeks to raise money.
Conoley says she is joining the effort to “help other people have good results.”
Cheryl Revels, another cancer survivor, will join Conoley during the Survivors Lap. She started participating in 2009, a year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40. She endured four chemotherapy treatments and is finishing her fifth and final year of taking a drug to prevent the return of the disease.
“The most important part of Relay for me is getting to meet other people who have gone through the same day-to-day struggles as me,” Revels said. “It’s a bond that you’ll never be able to break.”
It’s not too late to participate in the event, which will be begin at noon Friday with the opening ceremonies, and end at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Lisa Hendren has been involved with Relay for Life since the first event in Robeson County, which was in 1995. She expects as many as 5,000 to be at the fairgrounds over the two days.
“Everything is looking good,” said Hendren, who is vice president of support for the event. “We are just busy getting it together.”
Hendren said she has lost two brothers-in-law, two cousins and “several” friends to cancer, and has an aunt and uncle who are cancer survivors.
Hendren said there will be plenty of chances to support the effort during the event, including through the purchase of T-shirts.
Money is raised in a variety of ways.
Teams are selling business signs for $100 each that line the track for all participants to see as they walk the track. They also sell luminaries for $10 each, which are white bags that can be purchased to honor friends or loved ones who have died of cancer. These bags are lined around the track, and the candles are lit as a part of the luminary service, which will be held at 9 p.m. Friday. Teams also sell tiki torches for $30 to honor loved ones.
For information on purchasing luminaries, business signs or tiki torches, or to inquire on how to start or join a team, email Hendren at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 910-843-4135, email Amanda Smith at email@example.com or call 910-734-9792 or email Robin Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ceremonies and activities planned for this year’s event are as follows: survivor reception, 5 p.m. Friday; opening ceremony/survivor lap, 7 p.m. Friday; kids’ activities/kids’ lap, 7:30 p.m. Friday; luminary service, 9 p.m. Friday; Relay yard sale, 6 to 10 a.m. Saturday; kid’s activities, 9 a.m. Saturday; closing ceremony, 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Lumberton Chevrolet hosted a Survivor Celebration last Saturday.