Survivors, supporters Celebrate, Remember

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Jun 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Teams present on Friday evening shared stories, played games, ate together and, of course, walked laps at the Wilson County Relay For Life on the Caste Heights track field at Stroud Gwynne Field. 


Teams worked for months to raise money to support cancer research, and finally came together Friday to stand in solidarity and hope for a cure for cancer. 

“I just like to browse around and support and eat,” said Pat Hodge, a breast cancer patient who likes to walk the track with her caretaker.

Cancer affected many in attendance in some way, either as a cancer patient themselves or knowing a loved one with cancer. 

“[This event] helps us to get money to pay for our treatments, gives us motivation and makes me want to get out more instead of staying in too much,” said Jean Ricketts who worked for the city of Lebanon for 38 years before she retired as utility billing department supervisor. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, Ricketts said she would walk between 2-3 miles every day. 


“After I was diagnosed with cancer I just wasn’t able to get myself up to do it,” Ricketts said. “This helps me want to walk again.” 

Many community organizations came out to the event, but worked prior to Relay For Life to raise funds for cancer research. Wilson Bank & Trust exceeded its goal of $32,000 by $10,000, making its contribution around $42,000 in total funds raised for the American Cancer Society. 

“We have 12 branches involved. We do all types of fundraisers,” said Kayla Hawkins, a team leader for the Wilson Bank & Trust team whose husband, John Hawkins, is a two-time cancer survivor. “Pretty much all of us have family or friends who suffered from cancer or we lost them to cancer, so we’re all out here hoping that we can find a cure.”

The hot, muggy weather may have deterred some from showing up, though, as the crowd wasn’t quite as impressive as previous Relay For Life events in Lebanon, according to a volunteer with Wilson Bank & Trust.  

The event featured the survivors’ lap, team lap and caregivers’ lap, live music from the Blues Brokers, a luminaire service, clogging from multiple teams, including the girls from the multi-award winning Ever Mean, Ever Green Cloggers and plenty of food and games for children until midnight. 

For more pictures of this event click here. 


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