It’s hard to find a family that has not been affected by the nasty “c” word in some way.

Monroe County’s population is around 46,000 people. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 18,000 of the county’s residents in their lifetime will hear the words: “You have cancer.” There are more than 250 reported cases of cancer each year in Monroe County, according to American Cancer Society statistics.

While many have lost loved ones to this dreaded disease, new treatment options and other improvements in medicine and early detection are saving lives. It takes a team effort to beat cancer and Monroe Countians have come together to do just that.

Relay For Life raises thousands of dollars locally each year in the fight against cancer. Its impact is felt locally, helping save lives here at home.

The 2019 Relay For Life of Monroe County will be held next Friday, April 26, at Kefauver Park in Madisonville from 5-11 p.m. If it rains or in the case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the gymnasium at Sequoyah High School.

This year’s theme is “Carnival for a Cure.” Abbie Warren with JTEKT is the event chair.

“It’s our ultimate mission to keep doing what we’re doing in the hopes that one day no one will ever have to heard the words, ‘You have cancer,’ again,” said Warren.

Relay For Life is a family-oriented event featuring entertainment, games, food and activities for all ages — all for a good cause. The annual event raises thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society’s mission of saving lives from cancer. Team fundraising efforts are heavily relied upon and make all the difference.

“It takes everyone coming together to make this successful,” said Warren. “We understand the commitment, time and energy it takes to raise funds and fight back against cancer year-round in the community, and we appreciate everything so much.”

In 2018, Monroe County raised $49,305.88 for the fight against cancer, barely missing their goal of $50,000. Organizers have set a goal of raising $50,000 for the fight against cancer in the 2019 fundraising campaign.

“Somebody is benefiting from what we do,” Warren said, telling about her father’s personal battle with cancer. “Because of people like those who participate and help raise money during Relay For Life, my dad has been in remission for 14 years.”

If you have not registered your team for this year’s event or would like to join a team, visit the event website at www.relayforlife.org/monroetn to sign up or contact Warren for more information.

Warren said this year’s Relay For Life will feature fun for people of all ages.

“We will have a silent auction and activities for kids and, of course, lots of food,” she said. “We plan to have a lot of games for people to enjoy.”

JTEKT will also host a cornhole tournament at 7 p.m. Registration for the tournament begins at 6 p.m.

The cost to enter the tournament is $10 per person. First, second and third-place prizes will be awarded. Registration starts at 6 p.m.

For more information about the cornhole tournament, contact Danny O’Dell at 423-210-1117 or Warren.

Carlex will also be holding a tricycle race during Relay For Life at 7 p.m.

“We will have a special race to start off, which will be between Carlex plant manager Larry Janosek and JTEKT plant manager Wendy Grewe,” said Warren. “Carlex issued a challenge to JTEKT and Wendy accepted!”

After the kickoff race, other contestants will square off. All bikes must have three wheels and cannot have a motor. The entry fee is $5 per racer.

For more information about the tricycle race, contact rbowers@carlex.com or Warren.

At 9 p.m. during Relay For Life, all participants will share in a special ceremony to remember individuals who have been affected by cancer. When night falls and the lights are shut off, the site can only be seen by the flames from the luminaries that are lit in honor or memory of loved ones. The ceremony is a time to remember.

Luminaria bags can be purchased at the Sweetwater Walmart, Eric Hazuda’s State Farm office, Josh Rule’s State Farm office, 1st Franklin Financial, and the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce. Poplar Bluff Baptist Church will also be set up to sell the luminaria bags at the Relay For Life event on April 26.

“This is a big night for our community and it’s a lot of work for everyone involved, but at the end of the day, I want it to be a night to celebrate and honor our survivors and caregivers. That’s what it’s all about,” said Warren. “We invite everyone to bring out their lawn chairs to Kefauver Park and enjoy all the activities, while raising money for a great cause.”

For more information about Monroe County’s Relay For Life, contact Warren by email at abbiewarren14@gmail.com or phone at 423-295-4281.

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