The Rev. Robert Craig of First United Methodist Church Dyersburg opened the event with an invocation and Kay Curry of Dyersburg served as the featured speaker.
This March, Curry will mark the 10th anniversary of her diagnosis of Stage 2 colon cancer. March 13, 2003 is a day Curry said changed her life forever. Physicians found a golf-ball-size tumor and Curry -- who had never been sick and even still had her tonsils -- was faced with a fight for her very life.
"When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I immediately wanted her to get a wig. I thought that would be very important to her also. When I was diagnosed with cancer, that was the last thing on my mind -- I just wanted to live!" said Curry. "Without research, without the American Cancer Society, I probably would not be standing here at this very moment. I want to thank everyone here for their passion to make cancer a diagnosis of the past."
The 2013 Relay for Life will move from the Dyersburg State Community College campus to downtown Dyersburg this year. At the kickoff, Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce Director of Downtown Development Steve Guttery shared a GIS drawing of Dyersburg's downtown district, explaining where events will be held in the downtown community.
Those attending the kickoff enjoyed food and door prizes. They were also asked to cast their vote for their favorite poster in the annual Dyer County Relay for Life Poster Contest.
Northview Middle School students participated in the poster contest, incorporating the 2013 Relay for Life theme, "Journey for a Cure."
Winners of the poster contest include sixth grade first place winner Madison Garner, sixth-grade second-place winner Kayla Lawson, sixth-grade third-place winner Chase Bailey, seventh-grade first-place winner Ponder Bessent, seventh-grade second-place winner Alyssa Cottrell, seventh-grade third-place winner Grace Crews, eighth-grade first-place winner Angel Lawson, eighth-grade second-place winner Garrett Garner and eighth-grade third-place winner Dominque Bernard.
"Relay For Life is a team-driven community event which raises money to donate to the American Cancer Society for the purpose of research funding, which will someday discover the cure for cancer," said Maleia Evans, who serves as 2013 Relay for Life co-chair with her husband, Anthony Evans. "That same research has already discovered countless drugs, procedures, surgeries, and treatments which are helping people every day win their own battles against cancer. More people are surviving, but an end to the disease is what we all hope to see.
"In the battle against cancer, there are so many fantastic causes, organizations, and events who each have different purposes," continued Evans. "But all have the same objective, which is fighting cancer in every way possible. Take Dyer County, for example: We are so blessed here to have two very strong causes working in the battle against cancer, Relay for Life and the Community Cancer Fund. I think of it this way, the Relay for Life event is locals helping locals survive cancer and the Community Cancer Fund organization is locals helping locals thrive while going through cancer. Both causes are extremely important and our community is so fortunate to have so many eager and dedicated volunteers who help with both causes."
"We had a great turnout," said 2013 Relay for Life committee member Rachel Cartwright. "Several new teams signed up that night. We have 25 teams signed up as of today and 14 sponsors. We are ahead of where we were last year."
"The 2013 Dyer County Relay for Life is experiencing a record number of teams registered this early in our Relay season," said Evans. "There are some teams who are already very close to reaching $5,000 raised and we still have three months to go until our April 26 event. We welcome anyone who is interested in taking part in the 2013 Dyer County Relay for Life, in a small way or a big way, to please get involved. Contact us and we can help you decide where best to use your talents, gifts and time. Dream BIG for a cure for cancer, Hope BIG for more birthdays, Relay BIG for someone you love."