CRESTVIEW — Relay for Life teams “rocked out cancer,” in accord with this year’s theme, during last weekend’s annual fundraiser that benefits the American Cancer Society.
From Beach Boys to Kiss, rock music received representation from several team tents Friday and Saturday at Old Spanish Trail Park. The fun was part of a concerted effort to raise money for cancer research.
Several teams raised money to walk the track and participate in other activities to symbolically fight cancer. An opening ceremony preceded a traditional first lap for cancer survivors. Later in the evening, the track was cleared for a luminaria ceremony. Candle lit paper bags, each featuring the name of someone with cancer, lined the track.
"When I see the community coming to do this ... it's just overwhelming," Crestview resident Stephanie Rousset said. "It gets me going as a (breast) cancer survivor."
Rousset has been cancer free for the past four years and has known friends and family members with the disease. Some have survived; others died.
Crestview resident Ida Faye Powell — who is receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer diagnosed in 2011 — walked in the relay and raised $1,500 for the ACS. She had reached out to friends and former employers for donations.
"I told them about my situation and asked for their support," Powell said. "Having had family members that have had cancer, it's important that that one day a cure will be found."
Powell was part of the Bob Sikes Elementary School relay team. She was a teacher at the school for 30 years before retiring.
Other area schools, including Davidson Middle School and Riverside Elementary School, were just some of the teams lining the track. Area churches, businesses and other organizations also participated.
Over the past year, teams have raised $148,500 for cancer research; last weekend's event netted $17,000, according to event organizer Krystal Jackson. She credited Crestview in helping Okaloosa become the No. 1 county in the country in raising money per capita for the ACS.
"It's because of Crestview that we are number one, which is huge," Jackson said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.