Relay for Life Saturday in Franklin

Published 11:50 am Saturday, June 2, 2012


FRANKLIN—Saturday’s Franklin/Southampton Relay For Life has special meaning for cancer survivors Harry Christie and Ernest Claud Jr.

Both are alive because of research funded by similar annual events around the nation and will participate in the event at Bronco Credit Union Field on Stewart Drive in Franklin.

Twenty-five teams have raised more than $96,400 thus far, but Shellie McHenry, the incoming event chairwoman, expects that amount to increase significantly during Saturday’s event, which kicks off with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. The day will conclude with a Luminary Ceremony at 8 p.m. and closing ceremonies at 9 p.m.

“The event raised $129,434 last year and totals should surpass that figure this year,” McHenry said. “Teams will continue to collect and host fundraisers until the end of the Relay year in August to meet this goal.”

Christie, 66, of Franklin is alive because of early detection of testicular cancer in 1991.

“We were very lucky to have caught it so early,” said his wife, Vivian. “He found out on a Monday and had surgery on Thursday.”

Eight weeks of radiation treatments followed.

“He’s been absolutely healthy every since,” Vivian Christie said. “The research is what saved him for sure.”

If Harry Christie had gotten cancer before new information was discovered, he would not likely have survived.

In addition to attending a survivors’ banquet on Friday, the couple will walk the first lap of the Relay at the Bronco Credit Federal Union in Franklin and return for the Luminary Service.

Claud, 70, of Capron was operated on six years ago for prostate cancer.

“As of right now, all my tests show no signs of cancer,” he said.

Two factors led to his participation in Relay for Life. His father died from lung cancer 22 years ago and Chester Burgess, a founder of the Relay, spoke with him.

“I’ve been involved ever since,” Claud said. “That was 12 to 15 years ago.”

Claud is a team captain for the Pleasant Plain Cruisers for Life sponsored by his church, Pleasant Plain Baptist in Drewryville.

“We’ve had a team for 10 or 11 years, and have usually raised $6,000 to $8,000 each year. Our team will participate all day,” he said.

Mollie Blythe is captain of the Steps of Hope team sponsored by Hunterdale Christian

“So far we’ve raised $9,000, and have traditionally been in third place for several years, but it’s not over yet,” said Blythe.

The team will hold a raffle Saturday for four gift cards and sell bags of peanuts.

Although her son, David, has been enduring a non-cancerous blood disorder, Blythe said she feels the family has benefited from Relay For Life.

“We’ve been blessed,” she said.