Aberdeen Boy Will See Benefits of Relay for Life
When you meet 8-year-old Zachary Huffman, nothing gives you a clue as to what he has gone through for the past 18 months.
What started as a sore ankle in the summer was eventually diagnosed as leukemia in December 2010.
Zach and his mother, Kelly, were soon making almost daily trips from Aberdeen to the UNC Hospital for his treatments. Luke, his younger brother, was often along for those trips, but not really understanding the cause. Kelly was soon forced to take a leave of absence from her work to tend to Luke, Zach and his disease.
UNC Hospital has a "beads of courage" program, which rewarded Zach with a bead each time he was poked or punctured. He has a bag of beads, some of which represent 100 punctures, and a necklace which Oscar, a very special monkey, wears.
Oscar is Zach's "monkey in my chair" keepsake. Oscar took Zach's place in first grade while Zach was undergoing all his treatments. Zach's classmates took Oscar everywhere Zach would have gone.
After in-home tutoring, Zach and Oscar graduated together from first grade.
Zach says, "Now Oscar gets to stay home and I have to go to school, and I am glad I can."
Zach still has two-and-a-half years of treatments left before his doctors will feel confident that they have beaten the cancer.
He and his family are looking forward to participating in this year's Relay for Life, sponsored annually by the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Zach's school, Aberdeen Primary School, has a team, the Tigers, who are raising money to support the work of the ACS through Relay for Life.
Zach's experience is bound to be a strong encouragement to his team. He hopes everyone will join him by participating in the Relay this year.
There are several ways you can participate in this worthwhile cause:
n You can volunteer to be a captain and form a team. The teams formulate and implement plans to raise funds through a wide variety of events. The website, www.relayforlife.org/ moore, has lists of possible fundraising activities that teams from around the country have found to be successful.
n Or, you can sign up to be a part of an existing team and contribute to their success. There are already teams listed on the website, www.relayforlife.org/moore, and you can register online.
n Survivors can also sign up on this same website. There will be a separate Survivors Dinner about one week before the Relay for Life. Once registered, survivors will get the date and location of that activity.
n You can also choose to donate online using that same website.
The 2012 Moore County Relay will be held on Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, at Sandhills Community College.
Registration will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 21. There will be a presentation of the colors and singing of the national anthem at 10 a.m. An opening address will follow.
The Relay walk begins with the first lap taken by survivors. The second lap allows the caregivers to get their recognition. There will be a "celebrity team" who will walk the third lap.
There will also be a Kid's Walk from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday with fun activities for kids throughout the afternoon.
Food and beverages will be for sale throughout the day and evening.
The sale of luminaria will end at 8 p.m. and the lighting ceremony will be at 9.
To symbolize the idea that "cancer never takes a break," teams are encouraged to have someone from their team walking all night.
There will be an ecumenical worship service at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
The closing ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. on Sunday, April 22.
"The American Cancer Society is all about saving lives," says Patrick Henry, who is a volunteer with Relay. "Our country's 11 million cancer survivors are, like Zach and others, a testament to the progress we're making together.
"When you take part in Relay for Life, you are saving lives by personally fighting back against cancer.
"You may not realize it, but you will be a part of the world's largest movement ever assembled to fight cancer. It's a movement made up of thousands of people in 5,000 communities, all doing their part to fight back. Some have personally faced cancer. Others do it to honor a loved one.
"Relayers come from all walks of life to form a powerful fight-back force. The movement is built on everyday people taking action in Moore County and it can't happen without people like you.
"Thank you for saving lives by fighting back."
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