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Celebrating the fight: Luncheon honors Relay for Life effort

Relay for Life organizers and participants saw purple at the event's yearly celebration banquet Wednesday.


McDuffie County Relay for Life Co-chair Peggy Willis looks on as Thomson Mayor - and Relay Co-Chair - Bob Knox displays Thomson Middle School's Relay Baton.

Not only is it the relay's theme color, but American Cancer Society Community Manager Summer Garrison kept the promise to dye her hair purple if the McDuffie County Relay raised more than $235,000.

"And I'm not a messy eater," Ms. Garrison said as she stood - dressed in a plastic bib - in front of the crowd gathered at White Columns.

The $235,107 raised for cancer research and education at this year's event prompted Thomson Middle School team leader Kelly Bingnear to spray Ms. Garrison's hair purple at the end of the luncheon.

For her efforts, Ms. Garrison received the relay's Challenge of the Year Award. But she wasn't the only one picking up a plaque at the event.

Best decorated tent honors went to First Bank with its Sonny and Cher theme. Second place in that category went to Thomson Middle's 50's theme, and third place went to Queensborough National Bank with its motorcycle.

The award for best baton was given to the TMS team with its 1950s microphone. Washington Heights Baptist took home second place, and CSRA Home Health was third.


Kelly Bingnear sprays American Cancer Society Community Manager Summer Garrison's hair purple during the luncheon. Ms. Garrison agreed to the dye job if the county raised more than $235,000.

McDuffie Animal Hospital received best new team honors. Cancer survivor Dr. David Ruehle and his team raised $7,000 for the event. McDuffie County School Bus Drivers were also honored as a new team with $4,000 raised.

The Unsung Hero award went to the Thomson Junior Women's Club for taking care of the luminaries among other duties. The Above and Beyond the Call award went to Mrs. Bingnear of TMS who headed up a team that raised $7,000, of which 80 percent came from the students.

"At the relay it's like electricity was beaming around Kelly, and of course that spreads around to everybody," said Relay Co-Chair Peggy Willis.

The top money-raising teams at the event from No. 10 through No. 2 were: Kinglsey Milliken, Thomson Elementary, TMS, Rotary / SunTrust, McDuffie Animal Hospital, Watson & Knox, First Baptist of Thomson, First Methodist of Thomson and Temple-Inland with almost $11,000 raised and $13,000 in matching funds on the way.

The top fundraising team award for the 2006 relay went to the City of Thomson with over $25,000 raised. Thomson Fire Chief Rick Sewell made his way up front to accept the award to a standing ovation.

"This year was such a great year for us because we had such great participation from all of our employees," said Chief Sewell, who also served as the city's team captain. "Every year I wonder how we're going to do better, but thanks to their hard work it always comes about."


Summer Garrison addresses the luncheon after having her hair dyed purple.

Several others were honored for their assistance with the event. Judy Hobbs and Sherry Holliman helped with advocacy; Lee Cole helped with logistics; Jim and Teresa Bitterman counted money; Kim Lewis filled out forms for the relay; Jesse Morlan organized entertainment, and Allen Payne organized the survivors' activities.

Next year's relay will take place on May 18 and 19.

Web posted on Thursday, July 27, 2006

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