"Dream Big, Hope Big, Relay Big"
Under a blue sky and and heat of summer, cancer survivors and their families and friends gathered for the 17th annual Relay for Life Friday night to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
As survivors were lining up on the track to walk the first lap at Summey Park, several other survivors were in the center of the field at Summey Park where they released white doves to signify peace and tranquility for all survivors and in memory of other cancer patients who have passed away.
L.J. Myers of Landrum brought the doves and assisted as 10 survivors released doves, one-by-one, into the late evening sky.
After the dove release, leukemia survivors Aden Cole, 5, and Paisley Haynes, 6, cut the ribbon to begin the Survivors Walk. Some walked hand-in-hand, other survivors were carried by adults and some were pushed in wheelchairs and were applauded by the crowds of well wishers.
"Dream Big, Hope Big and Relay Big" was theme of the event as more than 45 teams came together to celebrate.
The American Cancer Society's signature fundraising event may have been the largest event in its 17 year history in Rutherford County.
Relay co-chair John Condrey thanked all the sponsors of the evening's event and said they contributed more than $50,000 toward the fundraiser.
Dr. Bobby Gantt led the invocation and prayed that those who have past away would be remembered and others would continue to raise awareness for the fight against cancer.
Throughout the evening games were played, dances were held and food was consumed and people appeared to be having a good time catching up on the news of the week.
At 9 p.m. the annual Luminary Ceremony was held with the Rev. Jack Knoespel, First United Methodist Church, Rutherfordton, presenting a brief devotional.
The silent lap around the track was conducted at 9:20 p.m. followed by the release of Wish Lanterns.
The goal for the 17th annual event was $213,000 and the final totals will be available in a few weeks.
All the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society for research, to Rutherford County patients and to the programs supported by the ACS in Rutherford County.