Make plans now for Relay for Life

By Rick Bohleber | Jan 27, 2014
Photo by: Donated photo Rick Bohleber is the chairman for Relay for Life of West Haywood.

Most of us make plans for our lives. At least we have some idea how we hope our lives will go. We want healthy kids, maybe send them to college, we hope for raises in our jobs, a vacation now and then, a church to attend, to stay healthy, maybe a good retirement.

Whatever our plans, they never include cancer. Nobody in his or her right mind thinks, “…and when I’m 46, I’ll go ahead and get breast cancer.” Of course not, but despite all the advances in cancer research, still 1 in 3 Americans will hear, “You have cancer.”

Yes, but what can I do about it?

I’m so glad you asked, because the answer is to get excited. That’s right; get excited, get very excited. The past 20 years have seen major breakthroughs in research, preventative measures, healthy legislation and greatly increased survival rates for many types of cancers. These breakthroughs were made possible by the millions of dollars contributed by ordinary citizens doing an extraordinary thing each year to support The American Cancer Society.

What do they do? They walk. They walk with friends. They walk for friends who have had and survived cancer. They walk to remember those loved ones lost to cancer and they walk to raise money to keep the fight going, a fight the American Cancer Society hopes to bring to an end in the next few years. 2014 is the ACS’s100th anniversary and its theme is “Finishing the Fight.”

The 2014 West Haywood Relay for Life begins at 6 p.m. May 9 at the Waynesville Recreation Center and ends at 6 a.m. the next morning. That’s over three months away. Why do I want you to get excited about it now? You raise more money by forming a team and have more fun by walking as a team. Building a team takes time and that time is now. So, who can form a team and how big does it have to be? You alone can be a team or you can get 300 of your closest friends to help you. The size of your team doesn’t matter. It’s the enthusiasm of your team to get out there and make a difference that matters.

You may have been involved in the past and you might be feeling apathetic about another Relay for Life. But let’s be clear about this because this year is going to be different. Different how? One word, “BIG!” Big in that the people here in Haywood County, already involved in committees, have pledged that this will be a whole community event. We won’t stop until every business on Main Street has pledged involvement. Until we have at least 100 teams, until Tuscola High School can out-raise Pisgah High School, until every cancer survivor in the county has been invited to come be celebrated. We won’t stop until you won’t stop.

Our theme this year piggybacks on the ACS’s national theme. We know that anyone who has survived cancer should not be defined by the disease they had, but rather by the courage, perseverance and willingness it took to fight it out and win. This year, the West Haywood Relay for Life theme is: “Celebrating the Courage to Fight,” (a “Rocky” theme).

So while you’re making those plans for your life, mark May 9 on your calendar, not just for an event for the whole family, but for a chance to be a part of your community, a part of something meaningful, a part of something that makes a difference in the lives of your friends right here at home.

To sign up for a team or to donate to another team, visit If you have more questions, contact Randi Smith at or Rick at

Rick Bohleber is the chairman for Relay for Life of West Haywood.

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