McDuffie County's heart -- and wallet -- keep proving bigger and bigger each year.
Last year, the county's Relay for Life was recognized as the number one fund raising relay per capita in the country after sending off more than $201,000 to the American Cancer Society for research and education.
Tony Pate plays the bagpipes as Thomson Mayor Bob Knox stands by and listens during last weekend's McDuffie County Relay for Life. In all, more than $208,000 was raised during the event, with more donations coming in daily. Last year, the effort raised more than $201,000.
Were you Spotted at the Relay for Life? Click here to find out!
And for this year's relay, all the numbers have grown even more. As of Tuesday, proceeds from the event had topped $208,000 with many last minute donations still rolling in and yet to be counted.
"You never know how all of that will work out, but we hope it will continue to keep getting bigger and bigger. I think it probably will," said Relay Co-Chair and Thomson Mayor Bob Knox. "As long as our people stay involved and active with it like they have been, it will always be a great success."
It's not just the money that grew this year. Nearly 2,500 walkers on 51 teams paced the Thomson High track all night and into the early hours of Saturday morning. There were over 225 survivors taking the first lap, and more total walkers on seven more teams than last year.
"They amaze me," said Summer Garrison, the American Cancer Society's community manager who handles the McDuffie County Relay. "The community really comes out for it, and that's something that you don't always see."
She added that McDuffie County's numbers are on par with the Augusta Relay for Life which had a goal of $240,000.
"I think it was a great success, and you can measure that in a lot of different ways. One of the obvious ones is dollars raised," Mayor Knox said. "The more people you have involved the more you spread the word, and that's what we want to do. ...I think any way you measure it, it was a real success."
According to the other Relay Co-Chair Peggy Willis, this year's numbers were huge, and the event was the best one yet. The new record in money raised surprised those in charge of the event -- including the co-chairs -- who set a goal of $175,000, thinking that last year's record couldn't be duplicated.
"I think that says a lot about us. It amazes me that it's a community that really comes together for the right causes," said Dearing Baptist Church's Relay Team Captain Tony Hedgecock, who is also a cancer survivor.
For Mr. Hedgecock, what motivates so many people to get involved and donate is simple. Every person has their own reason.
"I put the names (of people who have had cancer) on the back of my shirt, and it seems like every year more and more are getting on there. I don't think there's anybody that's never been touched by cancer," he said.
And those hoping to stay active and keep up with the McDuffie County Relay for Life year-round can now check it out online at www.relaymcduffie.com.
Were you Spotted at the Relay for Life?
• Click here to find out!
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Pick up a copy of the print edition of The McDuffie Mirror to see the special 'Picture a Cure' section included in this week's edition.
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