Twenty-eight teams and 259 participants took part in the Relay for Life of Galax and Carroll at Carroll County High School on July 25 to help boost the event’s fundraising efforts to over $87,000.
Liz Ingersoll was the top individual fundraiser for the 15th straight year, while Kevin Campbell was second and Donna Thomas third. In the team competition, the Hopeweavers were first, followed by the Blue Ridge Chapel Cancer Fighters and the Hillsville Presbyterian Church.
The guest speaker was Mark Horton, a survivor of multiple myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells.
In 2011, when Horton was working as the aquatic director for City of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., he began to experience back pain.
“I thought I was just getting older, but the pain got worse. Then I began to have sciatica pain, so I went to the doctor,” said Horton.
After undergoing a MRI, Horton was faced with the reality of his diagnosis. Although his doctor recommended a stem cell implant, Horton decided to undergo chemo and radiation until the beach season was over. In October, he was admitted to the hospital for a stem cell implant.
“I literally thought I was dying when I went in the hospital, but I came out a different person. I have my health, my life, my job. I’m thankful every single day I’m alive,” he said.
Horton added that his struggle with cancer taught him several lessons.
“I learned people who complain the least are usually the ones in the most pain.”
He then asked those gathered to “Remember those who are gone, but most of all, remember the survivors because they’re the ones you can help.”
Michael Howlett can be contacted at 276-728-7311 or on Twitter@MikeEHowlett