Sarena Atkins: A ‘Relay’ Hero

Published 7:26 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Winning a trophy and ribbon wasn’t the reason Sarena Atkins wanted to enter the SARHA’s “Hope for a Cure” Relay for Life competition.

She just wanted to do something in the fight against cancer that might keep other children from having to see their mothers suffer with the disease the way she had.

Sarena’s mother, Sonja Atkins, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2008 and she was by her side through it all.

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“When I got sick, we let our girls know everything I knew,” Sonja Atkins said. “Sarena knew when I went for chemotherapy and she knew that, most of the time, when I got home I didn’t need to be bothered. She helped take care of me right along with her father, Sylvester. She was kind and caring.”

When Sarena heard about the “Hope for a Cure” pageant, she wanted to participate.

“I told her that I didn’t know if she really wanted to enter the pageant,” Atkins said. “But she was sure that she did. She said she wanted to do something to help, not just because of me, but because of the others she had seen so sick with the disease.

“We lost my mother to cancer in May 2004 and my sister died with cancer last year, so Sarena had seen how devastating cancer can be. She wanted to do her part. She spearheaded our fundraising.”

Sarena and her family contacted other family members, friends and members of their church family and encouraged donations.

“Everybody was real supportive,” Atkins said.

And much of the support was from those same people who provided love and support when Atkins was undergoing treatment for cancer.

“If it had not been for my family, friends, co-workers here at Charles Henderson Middle School, and the Good Lord, I couldn’t have made it,” Atkins said.

“Sarena was such a big help. She has had three experiences with cancer and she’s only 11 years old. We are proud of her for wanting to be involved.”

To her family Sarena is a hero.

“To our community,” Sarena Atkins is the ‘Hope for a Cure’ Relay Hero,” said Pam Smith, SARHA team member.

“She raised $635 out of the $4,315.74 that was raised for the Relay Hero competition. We congratulate her and all of those who competed in the Relay Hero competition. They are all winners.”