The 2008 Mulberry, Florida, Relay for Life began Friday evening April 25, and continued through the night until Saturday morning when the announcement was made that they had raised $75,000 (currently $76,000) for the American Cancer Society. This was about $30,000 more than the previous record. They also had the best crowd turnout ever in their relay history.
Due to technical difficulties, American Cancer Society representative Colleen Mangan stepped in on the spur of the moment to sing the National Anthem and did a beautiful job.
My good friend Jerry Woods is a Mulberry city commissioner and the chairman of the Mulberry Relay for Life. Jerry and his daughter Brandy lost their wife and mother, Judy, to breast cancer in 2006.
Five faithful community supporters and courageous fighters carried the Relay for Life banner. Luminarias memorializing victims and honoring survivors were placed at intervals around the track. Although there were dozens of luminarias remembering people I did not know, I located the luminarias for Judy Woods and Megan Carpenter, a young lady who attended sixth grade at Tomlin Middle School where I teach.
While raising funds to fight cancer, Relay for Life maintains a fine balance between memory, honor, entertainment, and fun. Each relay team has a tent and campsite where they host games and prizes, sell food and other items, and stay the night. Continuous entertainment is provided and contests are held at the main stage throughout the event. Jerry's team, the Couch Potatoes, sold sloppy joes and drinks for their fundraiser.
Jerry's younger brother Perry, who is stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, was down visiting the family during Relay. He is a man of many talents, including magic illusions and comedy. Before the night was over he would steal the show.
Next up was the best mullet contest. Perry took the stage sporting sunglasses, a cut-off shirt, and the coolest mullet you've ever seen. Hilarious!
As if that wasn't enough, Perry challenged "Tina Turner" to a booty dancing pose-down. But it was all over when she snatched him bald-headed. Literally!
One of the highlights of the evening was when Tony Trotti painted a canvas to the tune of Every Time I Breathe by Big Daddy Weave. When the song ended, he flipped the canvas over to reveal that he had done a painting of Jesus upside-down. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Tony donated the painting, and later there was a drawing to raise money for ACS. I bet you would love to see it live, and now you can!
It's not too late to contribute. If you would like to make a donation and read Jerry's story, click here. To read more about my family's involvement with Relay for Life, click here. Congratulations to Mulberry Relay Committee and the people of Mulberry! Your hard work and dedication have paid off. Here's to finding the cure in the not too distant future . . . .