Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mulberry Relay for Life 2008

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.

The event was held at the Mulberry High School football stadium AKA "The Phosphate Bowl."

U.S. Congressman Adam Putnam sent an American flag and letter in honor of the event.

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.

Colleen sings the National Anthem.

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.

Commissioner Woods reads Congressman Putnam's letter.

Presentation of the colors.

The relay officially begins.

Mulberry High School JROTC in the lead.

Purple-shirted cancer survivors take the first lap.

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.

Luminarias encircle the track.

Judy Woods' luminaria

Megan Carpenter's luminaria

The survivors tent.

Jerry's parents are both cancer survivors.

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.

Brandy and Jerry try out the Couch Potatoes' couch.

Perry puts his costume together.

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.

My turn on the couch.


Sikes Elementary Chorus

Mulberry PD and "Sylva" give a demonstration.

Volleyball bumpers
(I have never seen so many orbs in one picture before.)

The 2008 Couch Potatoes

The field right before the Luminaria ceremony.

HOPE became . . .

. . . a CURE!

Jerry hosts the 2008 Miss Relay Pageant. Creepy!
(Note: Jerry was the 2007 first runner-up.)

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!

Perry struts his stuff!

The Pose-Down

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!

Tony's masterpiece

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 . . . .