By Tess Malijenovsky
Beaufort’s Relay for Life made great strides in cancer research around Beaufort Middle School’s track throughout the night of April 27. Hundreds of citizens participated in the overnight event to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those lost, and raise money for the American Cancer Society. But, the entire event would not be possible without Linda and Joe Arp, who stepped up to the challenge and have made Relay a reality in Beaufort the past two years.
One afternoon Linda, a three-year breast cancer survivor, was approached by a representative from the American Cancer Society at one of her Beaufort Belles support group meetings to become the chairperson of Beaufort’s Relay for Life event.
“Linda said, ‘Yea, but my husband’s going to all the work,’ ” Joe, Linda’s husband, joked.
So for the next two years, the personable pair volunteered an enormous amount of time and energy into bringing their community together in the fight against cancer.
Joe said there were 56 teams this year, each with captains who attended monthly meetings. There were also a number of committee chairs who would meet twice a month, volunteering their time outside of work to help Beaufort meet its goal of raising $105,000. Each team came up with creative, fun ways to raise money for the American Cancer Society — from yard sales, car washes, poker runs, spaghetti dinners, wine tastings to selling Boston butts and custom-designed T-shirts.
“Without teams, Relay wouldn’t exist,” Joe said.
The local schools played a large role this year in particular. Lady’s Island Middle School, for example, raised more than $5,000 Beaufort Relay for Life has raised just under $88,000 so far with a few months left to reach its goal. (Donations can still be made to help Beaufort’s Relay for Life online at www.relayforlife.org/beaufortsc.)
Cancer touches the lives of many people, and Relay brings the community together for one lively night to walk the track and celebrate life. This year there were many performers, live entertainment, games, dunking booths, a Miss Relay Pageant and team members dressed in costume according to the theme: Curing Cancer Across the Decades.
“It’s awesome to see people who’ve battled and fought cancer and continue to battle and fight cancer walk the first lap,” said Joe.
With the successful event behind them, it’s now time for Joe and Linda to pass on the torch, Relay style. Joe is excited for the new chairperson, Charlie Hollie. Charlie’s parents are both cancer survivors.
“He’s in it for personal reasons, he’s a go-getter, and he’s going to be a great chair next year,” Joe said.