No time for dozing

2007 Relay for Life is celebration of living

By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

Relay for Life co-chair Mark Cate has a message for people who think the 2007 Relay for Life is an event they can sleep

"If people are coming for a good night’s sleep, there’s no down time," he said.

This year’s co-chairs have seen the Relay come a long way. The Cates participated in the second or third Relay for Life
years ago, when it was held at Sandy Springs Park.

"There 10 teams and only seven camped out," said Mark. "And, when we got up the next morning, four were gone."

This year, the teams number more than 115 and the excitement and fun atmosphere pretty much assures few leave the event, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, June 8, and concludes at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 9.

Walkers will converge on the Maryville College campus for the all night walk around the oval to raise money and awareness to fight cancer.

The event has also come a long way in monies raised for cancer research. "They started 10 years ago and raised $5,000. We’re going to raise $250,000 this year," Cate said.

This year there will be between 115 and 120 teams. "Our goal was to get 100 teams," he said. "We feel we have met the goal successfully."

Cathy Cate said there were 93 teams in the 2006 Relay for Life. "Since this is the tenth annual event, we tried to set our goals with numbers ending in zero: 100 teams; $100,000 in corporate money raised," she said.

Mark said that this year’s fundraising goal is $250,000. They also want 2,000 luminaries, which are candles lit in bags in honor or in memory of cancer survivors, and they are hoping for 200 survivors to participate and be recognized as survivors, he said.

As the event has grown, so has the organizing committee of volunteers, Cathy said. "There were 50 people on the committee who were out handling different aspects of the relay so we’re making sure we are all communicating and know what’s going on with each other," she said.

"It’s gotten to be such a large event, and it takes so many volunteers to make it happen. It really is a volunteer-led initiative. Marion Westerling, development representative, American Cancer Society, is paid in her staff position, and she is a lot of help. But it takes an army of volunteers to make it happen," said Mark. "We probably didn’t understand how many people you need to make it happen."

Cathy said she has been impressed with the volunteers. "The neat thing is we’ve got these committees of volunteers who are seasoned veterans, and people who are brand new to the Relay who know this was an important cause, and people in between," she said. "It’s a neat mix of volunteers with different reasons why they want to be involved. Either they’ve been affected or have friends or family that have been affected."

The prevalence of cancer in our society fuels many to help, said Mark. "Almost everyone has had someone affected by cancer. While the event is so much fun, it is unfortunate in a way so many people have been affected," he said.

For the first hour of the event, there is an opening ceremony and a time for everyone to get acclimated, Mark said. People are in tents getting set up. The Survivor Ceremony gets things started on the right note, the organizers said.

"We recognize the survivors," said Cathy. "They receive a medallion, and they do the first lap before anyone else gets on the track. They are joined by their families for the second lap, and, on the third lap, all the teams join in."

Entertainment is a big part of the celebration.

"The entertainment starts with Jay Clark. He plays with Robinella and the CC String Band, and he’s playing for 45 minutes," said Mark. "While that’s going on, there are all sorts of food vendors gearing up to sell their specialties. A lot of teams prepare home cooking.

"Joe Zappa is going to bring his barbecue. Vulcan is doing hamburgers and hotdogs. Someone usually has chicken sandwiches. The Lutheran Church is bringing Tomato Head salads and sandwiches. There is always ice cream, popsicles, and Starbucks is going to be there this year, providing coffee for the teams all night long," Cathy said.

Mark Cate said the food vendors are there until they run out, with most food vendors shutting down by about 10 p.m.
After Jay Clark finishes at 8 p.m., Robinella and the CC String Band takes the stage.

"They’ll play an hour and a half until about 9:30 p.m.," Cathy said. "We are thrilled to have Robinella to provide entertainment. That’s going to be a whole added extra benefit. We think a lot of people will come to hear her. Some who might not come for Relay will come for her. That’s going to be exciting."

Cathy said there also is a huge children’s play area.

At 10 p.m., the Luminary ceremony takes place. Organizers will read the names of those survivors of cancer, those
struggling with cancer or who have been taken by cancer.

"It’s sobering," said Mark. "We have 2,000-plus people who will be remembered. That usually takes 45 minutes."

There is a break in the action between 11 p.m. and midnight, but entertainment comes back with a vengeance at midnight.

"You know, you’ve got to keep people’s energy up," Mark said. The Womanless Beauty Contest starts at midnight and is
open to any man who will come dressed up like a woman. "That’s one of the highlights every year," Mark Cate said.

Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., there are a variety of games. With the Dating Game, there are two rounds with three women and one man in one and three men and one woman in the other participating. "The winners get rushed off to their immediate date at Huddle House," Mark said. "Afterwards, they come back, and the host asks if they want a second date."

Relay participants will also get to play Deal or No Deal. Another activity is a scavenger hunt where the first team to bring back the requested item wins.

"There’s also a frozen T-shirt contest," Cathy Cate said. "Tim Self has frozen the T-shirts, and the first team to get one thawed out and on wins."

At 4 a.m., there is Jazzercize. "There’s music and activities all through the night," said Cathy, with everything ending at 5:30 a.m. At 6, we do a closing ceremony and announcement of money raised and a giveaway of prizes for people who stayed all night and then we start tearing down," she said. "It’s pretty quick."

The co-chairs said the atmosphere is always festive at the Relay. "One of the neat things we talk about is that it brings a cross-section of the community together. You see churches and youth groups, kids from school, teachers, corporations and businesses," Mark said. "It is a cross-section of the community coming together to find a cure for cancer."

"I think the big thing is this is an event for everyone," added Cathy. "There’s something for everyone. Whether they’re remembering someone touched by cancer or are looking for a fun thing to do."

"If you are new to the area and would like to know more people, I can’t imagine a better place. It’s a microcosm of Blount County," Mark said. "At the end of the day we’ll have close to 3,000 people on campus. That’s a lot of folks."

"It’s a family event and a fun event that does good not just for our community but for the entire world," Cathy Cate said. "You can really make a difference in that one little spot."

2007 Participating teams
(as of press time)

  • Alcoa Elementary School
  • Alcoa Fire-Rescue Dept
  • Alcoa, Inc.
  • American Fidelity Bank
  • Appalachian Therapy/Cherokee Athletic Facility
  • Atmos Energy
  • Bailes/Long Family
  • Bank East
  • BB&T Bank
  • Blount County Chamber of Commerce
  • Blount County Fire Department
  • Blount County Government
  • Blount County Schools Central Office
  • Blount Gastroenterology
  • Blount Memorial Hospital 5-North
  • BMH 5-South
  • BMH Administration
  • BMH Family Care Centers
  • BMH Education Department (The MOO'vers)
  • BMH Good Samaritan Clinic
  • BMH Health Information (Hee Haw Funnies)
  • BMH Medical Services Office/HCPCS Chicks
  • BMH Patient Accounts (The Funnel Cakes)
  • BMH Patient Accounts (The Funnel Cakes) Team 2
  • BMH Pharmacy (The Chemo Agents)
  • BMH Radiology
  • BMH Transitional Care Center (The Dream Team)
  • BRC
  • Broadway UMC Youth
  • Broadway UMC Youth Team 2
  • Carpenter’s Elementary School
  • Carpenters Middle School
  • CBBC
  • Central Point Baptist Church Adults
  • Central Point Baptist Church Youth
  • Century 21 Realty 1
  • Century 21 Realty 2
  • City of Maryville Fire Department
  • Clayton Homes 1/Red Hat Ladies
  • Clayton Homes 2
  • Clayton Homes 3
  • Clayton Homes 4
  • Clayton Homes 5
  • Clayton Homes 6/Pretty in Pink
  • Color Me Purple
  • Courtyard Grille in memory of Bob Jones
  • Fairview United Methodist Church Singles
  • Family of Kim Christopher Henderson
  • First Baptist Church Maryville
  • First National Bank
  • First TN Bank
  • Ft. Craig School
  • Foothills Elementary School
  • Heritage Student Council
  • Heritage High HOSA
  • Jazzercise
  • Jazzercise 2
  • John Sevier Elementary School
  • Joseph Construction
  • Junior Service League
  • Lanier Elementary School
  • Logan’s Chapel United Methodist Church
  • Marriott Business Services #1
  • MBS - General Accounting I
  • MBS - General Accounting Team II
  • MBS-General Accounting Team III
  • MBS-General Accounting Team IV
  • MBS-Billing-Collections - Team I
  • MBS-Billing-Collections - Team II
  • MBS - Billing-Collections- Team III
  • MBS - Disbursements
  • MBS - Customer Service Team I
  • MBS - Customer Service Team II
  • MBS - The Castaways
  • Maryville Church of Christ
  • Maryville College
  • Maryville College 2
  • Maryville First United Methodist Church
  • Maryville First United Methodist Church #2
  • Maryville High School - Faculty
  • Maryville Intermediate School 6th Grade
  • Maryville Rotary Club
  • Maryville Middle School
  • Maurice’s "Style for a cure"
  • Massey Electric
  • Middlesettlements Elementary School
  • Molecular Pathology
  • Mountain National Bank
  • Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church
  • Oakland United Methodist Church
  • Olympia Athletic Club Inc.
  • Overton Family
  • Piney Level Baptist Church
  • Porter Elementary School
  • Re/Max First
  • RFL Steering Committee
  • Ruby Tuesday I
  • Ruby Tuesday II
  • Rural/Metro
  • S&ME
  • Sam Houston Elementary School
  • Sanford Brands II
  • St Paul AME Zion #2
  • St. Mark UMC
  • Standard Aero
  • Starbucks Coffee
  • Strata-G
  • Sundance Kids
  • Sundance Kids 2
  • Team Karson
  • Team Debbie 1- Walland Elementary
  • Team Debbie 2 - Walland Elementary
  • Team Foothills Mall
  • Tennessee Urology Associates - Men Against Cancer
  • Tennessee Walkers
  • Therapeutic Balance Bodywork Associates
  • Thrivent Financial for Luterans
  • ThunderWorld USA
  • Tuckaleechee United Methodist Church
  • Union Grove UMC
  • United Community Bank
  • US Foodservice, Kings Division
  • USWA, Local 309
  • Vulcan Materials Rock Crushers

  • Walgreens
  • Wal-Mart
  • Wal-Mart Maryville
  • Why Weight For a Cure
  • William Blount High School

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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