The 2019 McDuffie County Relay for Life raised money for the cancer fight even with several obstacles.

The Carnival for a Cure Relay Friday night was suspended at 7:45 p.m. after lightning and storms hit the community.

The Survivor’s Lap was held and luminaries were lit before the Relay stopped.

Kay Kendrick, local chairman, viewed the Relay as successful with $70,000 of the goal of $100,000 turned in. More will be turned in in coming weeks.

“Even with all the setbacks we had, I think it was successful,” she said. “My theory is that if one dollar was raised, it was a dollar more than before.”

The event was originally set for May 31, but a fire at the Thomson Georgia-Pacific facility caused smoke problems, and the event was moved.

On Friday, Kendrick said the McDuffie County Board of Education notified her that a storm was 10 miles out and moving in Thomson’s direction. There was also lightning in the area, and Kendrick said the risk was too great, and so the event was stopped.

Close to 200 took part in the Survivor Lap, with nearly 100 others joining in for the second lap.

One of those walking was Belinda Dorsey, a breast cancer survivor.

“I was diagnosed in 2010 after I had continual pain on one side,” said the 57-year-old Dorsey. “I was in Stage 4 of breast cancer and now, I am doing great.”

While she had both breasts removed, she said she has stayed in remission and is eternally grateful to God and the American Cancer Society (ACS) for its efforts.

“I encourage people to get checked, to make sure you are safe – regardless if you are a man or woman – it’s that important,” she said.

Another making the survivor lap was George Nichols, who battles Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

“It was discovered in 2013,  and I retired from the city,” said Nichols, now 70. “It left and came back, and I finally was found clear in 2017.”

Nichols said he recently had a scan and was clear, but he continues them every four months.

“It’s taken me from what I thought was a strong person to a weak person,” he said. “I have also found myself dependent on others. But, I lean on God and them and make my way through.”

Nichols said the work of ACS is important.

“It’s important to everyone to keep a focus on cancer,” he said. “I really believe there is a key out there, and we just have to keep up the research and education.”

At the Relay, Kendrick and Gregory Tsikerdanos, ACS community development manager, thanked the nearly 20 teams for their work and the community for its response.

“We may be small in number this year, but we are big in spirit,” said Kendrick as she thanked everyone.

Tsikerdanos echoed Kendrick saying that the ACS appreciated everyone making an effort to be sure a Relay was held this year – even with the setbacks.

“This has been a year of transition and change,” he said. “We thank you for making the effort to make the Relay an ongoing event in McDuffie County.”

Bob Knox, a Hero of Hope, spoke to the crowd moments before the Survivor Lap. Knox was a long time local chairman for the Relay.

“We are making strides with the treatment of cancer and with the patients of cancer every year,” he said. “I’ve had cancer twice, and I can tell you it is an unforgiving disease. The fight makes you a better person and citizen… The reason we are here is to beat cancer.”

On Tuesday, Kendrick said that there may be a change in location and the month the Relay is held.

This was McDuffie County’s 19th Relay. Over the years, it has raised in excess of $1.7 million for the fight against cancer.

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