Tricia Koehler and Johnny Stinson-Foster walk the indoor track at Charles Drew High School in Riverdale during the Clayton County Relay for Life last Friday. Although the event is traditionally held outdoors, rain that fell at the beginning of the event forced organizers to move it indoors. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
2014 Clayton County Relay for Life
Hundreds of people ignored the weather and took to the indoor walking track at Charles Drew High School last week for the 2014 Clayton County Relay for Life.
RIVERDALE — Breast cancer was a mountain that Rhonda A. Williams overcame.
She had to get the cancer removed and undergo treatments to lessen the likelihood of it returning. It affected her life and left her struggling financially.
They likely won’t be remembered as the best of times, but Williams said she kept her faith in God throughout the ordeal. She attributed her handling of her cancer and regaining solid financial footing to that faith, and she boasted about the results during the Luminaria ceremony at the Clayton County Relay for Life last week.
“I am Rhonda Williams and I am a breast cancer survivor,” she boasted while flashing a smile.
Rain forced this year’s relay to be moved from Southern Crescent Stadium to the Charles Drew High School gymnasium, but it didn’t stop about 200 people from taking to their feet to fight cancer. Instead of marching around a candle lit outdoor track, the participants walked around the gymnasium’s indoor track with fluorescent lighting overhead.
“We really thought we’d be out here with fewer participants than we have, but thankfully people are committed to fighting cancer and they are still out here,” said relay chairwoman Bridget McDonald as the event entered its third hour.
“So many people are doing this to support someone in their lives who are fighting cancer or have survived it,” McDonald added. “Other people are here to remember someone they’ve lost to cancer.”
Several schools, churches and county government offices fielded teams in the relay to support co-workers and fellow parishioners who had survived or are currently fighting cancer.
For many attendees, however, their reason for walking in the relay was a parent. Proceeds raised from the relay are used to help the American Cancer Society to fund research dedicated to finding cures for cancer.
“Both of my parents had cancer so I’m walking for them and I’m also walking for my children so hopefully they’ll never get cancer,” said Rex resident Tricia Koehler, who walked with the Morrow Presbyterian Church Crosswalkers team.
Johnny Stinson-Foster said he was because “my mom’s got cancer.”
Margaret Spencer, captain of the Solicitor’s Office’s 25-member Misdemeanors team, said she and co-workers used parental motivation to raise a little over $1,400.
“We have several staff members who have parents who survived cancer and we wanted to honor them,” Spencer said.
And there were some people who came to the relay to teach their children about the mission of relay-organizer the American Cancer Society.
Morrow resident Crystal Nava said she also came to support her mother, who is a cancer survivor, but she also wanted to teach her young daughter, Alexia, about cancer research.
“I want to make sure she understands why it’s important that we support this cause because it is important that we help people like my mother fight cancer,” said Nava.