On May 21, relayers, service volunteers, cancer survivors and loved-ones of cancer victims alike gathered at the ACS office in Beaumont to commemorate ACS’s 100th birthday and to commemorate struggles lost and battles won. To celebrate ACS’s 100th birthday, each participant was given a birthday card and encouraged to honor a cancer survivor or victim by writing his or her name on the card and pinning it on a cancer ribbon-shaped board.
One of the participants was Mary Wilson, a member of Beaumont’s Alpha Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Greek-lettered organization for African-American women. Wilson pinned a card on the board in honor of her Greek sisters who survived cancer and in memory of those who died. She wrote her grandfather’s name, Willie Johnson, on the card as well. Johnson, who Wilson helped care for during his last days of life, lost a battle with cancer in 1972.
“Those of us who have not had to struggle with the condition of cancer … it opened our eyes to a (new) world,” she said. “It’s one where you have to keep your mind on your recovery, your wellness and your wholeness. It’s a morning-to-night mindset of, ‘We’re going to overcome.’”
Participants were also given Chinese lanterns in honor of loved ones. The wind didn’t cooperate with the release, however, and only a couple of lanterns actually took flight.
“The wind’s too strong,” said Robert Dickenson, online chair for Beaumont Relay for Life. “You just can’t do them if it’s too windy. It’s got to be a calm, peaceful night.”
Dickenson said that the thought was what was important.
— Kevin King