By the Rev. Trey Harper, Pastor Eupora First United Methodist Church
Whenever you say Relay for Life around Webster County, you most likely get one of three responses. You might get a pleasant smile and a response that goes something like “that is such a nice event.” That would be from folks who might or might not be going, but they think it is nice either way. And of course we know that “nice” is the Southern word applied to anything that is good, but really has nothing to do with us. The second response you get might be some frantic request to buy something to support someone’s local Relay team. This person is most likely a team chair who is crunching numbers to reach a goal. Or finally, you might get a groan or long sigh when you mention Relay. That would be from those exhausted team members who have been working and planning and selling and begging for the last several months. And I will be the first to admit that I have usually been one of those groaners until this year. Last fall my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The first in our family and a huge shock for us all. But with great doctors and therapists, countless faithful prayers and the healing grace of God, mom is now cancer-free. But having gone through the difficult journey that is cancer, I have a whole new appreciation for Relay for Life and for the work of the American Cancer Society. Because of their dedication to research and finding a cure, my mom is back to living the life she has blessed with, and for that I will be eternally grateful. So this year, as our Eupora Methodist teams hit the track, I will know they are walking, in part, for my mom. And as our church’s Torch of Hope is lit celebrating all our members who are cancer survivors; it will also be shining the hope that kept us going through the months of treatments. And as the night sky is illumined by luminarias, and my mom’s name is among those read, it will be like lifting prayers of joy for her recovery; and prayers of hope and healing for my friends who continue to take that journey. Yes, Relay for Life this year, while just as exciting and fun as all the years before, will be special for my family and me. Relay for Life is a celebration of all the lives that courageously battle this dreaded disease; and this year, among those brave souls honored will be one name that I hold dear. So, I encourage you to support the Relay for Life and help Webster County do its part to find a cure. For our family, it’s not just a “nice” thing to do anymore, it is downright personal.