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Gibson chairs Relay toward solid start

Many people would hesitate to chair an event that has a fundraising goal of more than $200,000.

That's a lofty goal, even for a large city. But, when a rather rural county has raised the bar that high, one would think it would be almost impossible to find someone to step to the plate. But, not in Pike County, not when Mary Gibson was in the batter's box.

Gibson is no stranger to Relay for Life. She has been involved in Relay from the get-go, and for good reason.

She is a cancer survivor and several members of her family have fought the battle. She knows what a devastating disease it is and she knows how important it is to find a cure.

"Great strides have been made in diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer, but we haven't beaten it yet," she said. "But with all of us working together and committed to finding a cure, I feel sure that one day we will."

Gibson said she can think of no greater cause than finding a cure for this deadly disease.

"And, I want to be a part of finding that cure," she said.

That's why Gibson didn't hesitate to be a member of the local board of the American Cancer Society when approached in 1996.

"I have served my term on the board and, when I was asked to be the chair this year, I knew it was something I needed to do and it was something I wanted to do," she said. "This is something I can do to give back to my family, my church and my community. Everyone has been supportive on me. I wanted to do this."

Gibson said the goal of "$203,000 in 2003" is "reachable" and she has no doubt that the people of Pike County will come through. Everyone has always been so supportive and so generous and I have no reason to think they won't be this year."

Gibson said the theme for this year's Relay for Life is "Racing for a Cure."

Sixty-seven teams are participating in Relay this year and they all seem to be excited about their fundraising events and looking forward to Relay for Life big event, Gibson said.

"Our sponsors are most important to the success of Relay," Gibson said. "Their support makes it possible for us to set and reach goals that otherwise would not be attainable."

Relay for Life 2003 will get under way at 5 p.m., Friday, May 16 and end 24 hours later "The Survivors' Walk will be at 6 p.m. and we encourage everyone to come out and show our support for these hometown heroes. The Luminary Ceremony will be at 9 p.m. That is a very touching part of the night's program and we encourage everyone to be a part of it.'

The Miz Relay Contest will follow the Luminary Ceremony and it promises to be one hilarious show. Each team is asked to sponsor a contestant in Miz Relay and earn bragging rights for an entire year.

Gibson said the Relay area is being redesigned so that the staging area is central to all Relay tents.

"The stage will be in the center of the area and everyone should be able to see and hear what's happening on stage," she said. "I think this change will make Relay more enjoyable."

Relay teams are already busy with fundraising activities and the nearer to the Relay event, the more steam the teams will pick up.

"I would like to encourage everyone to support the teams and their fundraising efforts whenever possible," Gibson said. "Whether a person give 25 cent or $25,000, every penny is important because every day we are moving closer and closer to finding a cure for cancer. And, along the way, new treatments are being found that give cancer patients better chance at life and a better quality of life. You don't know how important that is until you are faced with cancer and live with the hope that one day a cure will be found."