Dominating a decade

In its 10th year, 2007 Blount Relay for Life tops $300,000

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By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

What a difference a decade makes.

Organizers of the 2007 Relay for Life wanted the tenth year of the fund raiser for cancer research to be memorable. Mark and Cathy Cate and their committees stretched every goal to round numbers, trying to emphasize the "10th:" 100 teams and $250,000 in funds raised.

As the early morning dawned on Maryville College Saturday morning, expectations were more than fulfilled.

"We were extremely excited by the end of the event," said Mark Cate. "Our goal was $250,000. At the end of the night, it was $330,772."

Cate said there a couple of big reasons for the success of the 2007 effort.

"We had a committee of 50 people. You think of how many people were out there promoting Relay for Life and getting people involved," he said. "We had over 120 teams out there raising money for this event. Plus we had $100,000 in corporate sponsors. Put those two things together, and we just blew the top off the goal."

Cate said he and Cathy were very appreciative of everyone’s support for the event. "Obviously this has become one of the biggest events and most fun events in the community. We thank everyone who made it so successful," he said.

The evening of the event, relay walkers, cancer survivors, team members and residents from throughout the area converged on the Maryville College campus. Teams also set up booths to sell everything from hot food, soft drinks, concession items and back massages. Games were plentiful, including Planko, inflatables and sports games. There were baskets to bid on at silent auctions and entertainment every hour, including the midnight Womanless Beauty Revue, 1 a.m. Dating Game and 2 a.m. Deal or No Deal.

After a brief downpour that drove everyone into the Wilson Fine Arts Center, participants dried off, and it was business as usual. The aroma of grilled delights filled the early part of the evening. Ribs, fried Twinkies, hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, homemade cookies and other goodies kept visitors, walkers and supporters well-fed.

Kevin Barnes with Marriott Business Services said the company had 11 teams in the Relay with 165 people total. The group raised $15,000 before the event started.

There were eight teachers and staff members from Carpenter’s Elementary School on hand. Teacher Wanda Borum of Carpenters Elementary School said her group raised between $1,500 and $1,600. "All of us have family members touched (by cancer)," she said.

In the opening ceremonies, which were delayed an hour because of the rain, Cathy Cate thanked sponsors such as Blount Memorial Hospital, Alcoa, Inc., Sanford, Clayton Homes, WATE, B-97.5, the Daily Times and Massey Electric.

Each cancer survivor at the event received a medal. Natalie Ford received the first one because she did the design for the shirt given to event walkers. University of Tennessee student Nicholas Long, 20, a cancer survivor, also was given an American Cancer Society scholarship.

Jason and Karson Beaty were on hand with a large group of friends who turned out to walk for Karson. Karson was diagnosed with cancer in February. The 1998 Maryville College grad was thankful for the support and love of friends. "It’s a real special event," she said.

R.C. and Phyllis Leming of Blount County each wore survivor’s medals. R.C. said he appreciated walkers in the event. "It shows they’re interested in trying to find a cure and doing something about it," he said.

St. Paul AME Zion Church had about 12 people on hand to walk. "Everybody is involved. We’ve had different fundraisers," said Stanley Young of Maryville. Dexter Stewart said this was the second year the church has done the Relay. "It’s
something we look forward to," said Stewart. "It’s an exciting time."

Janice Powell was walking with Sundance Kids Daycare. "My sister died from cancer," she said. "I think it’s a great way to support cancer research and cancer survivors."

BB&T Foothills Mall branch had 10 members on their team and worked with Marble Slab Creamery to sell ice cream. Branch manager Regina Jennings said cancer shows no partiality. "It’s no respecter of persons," she said.

Massey Electric owner Randy Massey was manning a cooker where his company and Joseph Construction were selling barbecued ribs and pulled pork. "Where else better to spend your time than with friends on a good cause," Massey said. "There’s no other place I would rather be."

Massey had about nine people there and Joseph Construction owner Joe Zappa had 12 people on site. Between their two cookers, they cooked about 120 slabs of ribs for the event, Zappa said.

Nine-year cancer survivor Ann Swaney was at the event with her young daughters, McKenna, 9, and Karley, 3. Swaney said that while she appreciated the fundraising, she also enjoyed the festivities. "It’s great for families, and it’s fun," she said. "Kids love it."

Carl VanHoozier with Vulcan Materials Co., said the team sold about 150 pounds of pulled pork and raised about $700. Their booth was popular with visitors as many lined up for dinner.

Atmos Energy’s team members split time selling soft drinks and candy and walking during the all night event. "We’re probably going to raise between $500 and $700," he said of the night’s fundraising totals.

Robinella and the CC String Band and singer Jay Clark headlined the entertainment, with Clark opening for Robinella. "It’s an honor to be here," said Clark. "It’s always good to come home, especially for something like this. If you can do something to help find a cure, it’s worth the effort."

The co-chairs for 2008 Relay for Life are Rick and Cindy Shepard.

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

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