Magoffin Co. Relay for Life organizers say donations down, spirits up

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Donations were down, but spirits were up in Magoffin County.

After the March tornado that wiped out businesses and homes in Salyersville, organizers of this year's Relay for Life said they did not have many sponsors but they decided the show must go on.

Regardless of the reason, several crossed paths at the Relay for Life to celebrate making it one more year.

“My other grandchildren's grandmother passed away last week with cancer. Nathan's uncle passed away last night with cancer. It's a rapid thing in Magoffin County,” said Tonja Helton,a 10-yearbreast cancer survivor who works on the Magoffin County Relay for Life committee.

Helton said that she is part of a cancer support group and they see new members or hear about new diagnoses every week.

“My grandpa passed away with cancer in 1986 and that's mainly the reason I do it,” said John Howard, who also works on the Magoffin County Relay for Life committee.

Howard said though donations were down, he wanted to thank his boss at the IGA of Salyersville for a $1,000 donation.

Helton said though the money had not been raised like in previous years, the focus was not on that.
“It is our job to remember, celebrate and try to find a cure for cancer,” said Helton.

This year's event was cut in half after Mother Nature turned their world upside down just three and a half months ago.

“Because of the tornado we felt that it wasn't right for us to interfere with people that's trying to get their lives back together,” said Helton.

Organizers said they wanted to make sure the most important things took place.

“We decided we would do a half night and just to get together so the survivors could do their lap and those who are newly diagnosed with cancer can come out, celebrate and do their lap,” said Betty May, Chairperson and 10-year breast cancer survivor.

Helton said the big sponsors were unable to give a lot this year.

“We lost most of our businesses, so we don't have the businesses to sponsor us like we should but the people has still went out and respected their people and bought the torches and bought the bags and stuff but our big sponsors donations sure is down,” said Helton.

Many say they are thankful to stay on track, even if donations are down.
Another Relay for Life event is being held in Martin County and Harlan County's is scheduled to take place on Saturday.

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