Big Sandy Relay for Life  honors those who fight cancer

Cancer survivors from Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Lawrence and Martin counties Saturday led the first victory lap of the Big Sandy Relay for Life at the Big Sandy Community and Technical College. Participants included five-year-old survivor Layne Childers, of Pike County, who celebrated his birthday with everyone at the relay.

The Big Sandy Relay for Life honored the lives of those who have been touched by cancer Saturday with the first-ever multi-county fundraising event at the Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg. Survivors and their support teams from Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Lawrence and Martin counties gathered, despite the threat of thunderstorms, to raise awareness and funds toward cancer research.

“We’re thrilled to be coming together as a region for this fight,” said Robin Bailey of Team Appalachian Regional Healthcare. “We’re proud to support Relay for Life and the battle against this horrible disease. One region — One reason.”

Individual teams from throughout the

region set up tents around the track to raise funds toward cancer research and enjoy the celebration.

“It is very emotional to be a part of the Relay for Life. The first time I participated, it was only eight months cancer free — and now, here I am,” said Loretta Tackett of Hi Hat, a three-and-a-half year survivor of breast cancer. “If you are someone who is battling cancer, know of someone who has and has been battling feelings about cancer, coming out to an event like this and meeting others who may be facing the same types of cancer — knowing that they have beaten it. It’s life-affirming. It’s great. It gives you hope and a renewed reason to fight.”

One tent in particular, set up by Appalachian Regional Healthcare, was a special stop by many who walked the track.

“Today is the birthday of Layne Childers, who is celebrating his fifth birthday as well as five years cancer-free,” said Bailey. “We wanted to celebrate with him and paid for his party so he wouldn’t have to miss anything.”

Following the presentation of colors by Floyd County High School Junior ROTC, and opening remarks by Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton, survivors took the first lap of the relay.

“We hope someday that events like this will no longer be necessary because we’ve beaten cancer,” said Bailey. “But in the meantime, we will continue to fight this awful disease and support those who, one day, will find a cure.”

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