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Relay for Life brings out the best in those who take part

Posted: May 15, 2012 - 4:42pm  |  Updated: May 15, 2012 - 6:08pm
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SARA CALDWELL/STAFF  Kristen Learnard (left), 16, and Stacey Fields, both from North Augusta, hold up signs as they walk during a Relay for Life walk at North Augusta High School.  Sara Caldwell
Sara Caldwell
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF Kristen Learnard (left), 16, and Stacey Fields, both from North Augusta, hold up signs as they walk during a Relay for Life walk at North Augusta High School.

 

Residents of North Augusta and Midland Valley toughed a night on the North Augusta High School football field in support of cancer on Friday night.

The event started with a survivor’s walk at 7 p.m., featuring men and women who have battled cancer.

Brittanie Corbett, 23, was one survivor who defeated Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was diagnosed with stage 2 of the disease in September 2011.

It was shortly after last year’s Relay for Life that Corbett had a painful nodule in her neck and began visiting doctors to see what was wrong. Finally, when she went to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics, they knew what was wrong immediately, she said.

She went through radiation and chemotherapy, and about two weeks ago was told she was in remission.

“I was excited,” she said. “I have never been so happy.”

The experience has taught Corbett that it is time to start living. Her mom died two years ago and she said her life has just been on hold.

“I really want to start living my life now,” she said. “I definitely don’t take life for granted anymore.”

Corbett’s best friend, Gregory Scott, said that it was sad at first watching his friend battle cancer, but that she’s been inspirational throughout the process.

“If she can get through that, I know that I can get through anything,” he said. “I am proud of her. She held strong no matter what.”

Over at team Miller and Myer’s tent was the infamous purple toilet that many in town received in their front yard during the team’s campaign. The toilet alone raised about $1,000 for cancer research.

The toilet was randomly placed in yards with a note on how to get it taken away. People could donate to have it removed, or if they donated $20, they could designate another yard to have it placed in.

Team member Brian Sautter and his sons helped move the toilet from yard to yard. He said overall it was fun, people didn’t get mad and it became a game.

The team sold more than 100 luminaries that were used to spell Hope in the stadium bleachers.

Reed Miller started the team and it was his first year participating in Relay for Life. He lost his father to cancer in 2010. The other side of the team was set up in honor of Mark Myer, brother to team members, who died in February.

Miller said Friday that he was happy to be at Relay for Life and finally be at the event that his team had been raising money for, but that it was also kind of sad to watch it come to an end.

Prior to experiencing cancer in his own family, Miller said he would have happily donated to the cause if someone had asked and moved on, but now it’s different.

“It’s different being part of a survivor family or a deceased family,” he said. “I think I will do this (Relay for Life) for a while. It feels right, I feel like I need to do it.”

Miller said that a year ago he couldn’t find anything “fun” about cancer, but about eight months ago he started feeling like he needed to do something.

“I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how,” he said.

Now he plans to continue participating in Relay for Life and he said he hopes to see more church participation in the event next year.

‘‘It was a very moving experience,’’ he said, noting after the 12-hour event that he wasn't as tired Saturday morning as he thought he would be. ‘‘I think being involved with Relay helped us all with our own healing process, and I think that gave us all energy to keep going and motivation to do our best.’’

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