Celebrating life

Published 11:00 pm Friday, May 3, 2013


Carolyn Walker was surprised by friends and family who created a Relay for Life team in her honor Friday night.


Survivors and supporters unite at this year’s Relay for Life

Carolyn Walker stopped a few tents shy of the red and white one at the corner of the Relay for Life track Friday night.

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Her smile gave way to tears as she realized she knew the people under the tent. They were her daughters, her brother, her sisters, other family, church friends, work friends and more. Many were from out of state.

“I think she was very surprised,” said her daughter, Heather Reaves.

“It seemed like she had no clue,” echoed Walker’s other daughter, Hope Ward.

Reaves and Ward, along with their father, Warren Walker, and countless others, had created a secret Relay for Life team called Carolyn’s Crew in honor of Walker, a cancer survivor who just finished her treatments last week after a yearlong battle.

Walker had said she wanted to create a team next year, when she was stronger. But her family couldn’t wait to celebrate Walker’s enduring spirit.

There was food, fun, but most of all, family and friends waiting on Walker as she arrived at the Relay event.

“She got about right there,” Warren Walker pointed down the row of tents. “She saw everyone and just about broke down.”

Walker hugged everyone under the tent, asking with each embrace, “How long did you know about this?”

“I am very surprised,” Walker said, smiling. “And very blessed.”

The sprinkles early in the evening turned to heavier rain, but it wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of Carolyn’s Crew, or any other team at the event.

“What a beautiful night,” joked Relay Chair Sharla Davenport during the opening ceremonies.

“Our cancer patients and survivors have weathered worse storms and we are going to hang in there for them, tonight, in their honor.”

Local American Cancer Society representative Jessamyn Boyd said she was proud of the community.

“A little bit of rain never hurt anybody,” Boyd said as she watched the survivor/caregiver lap at Relay. “It’s nothing compared to what these survivors and families have been through. I am proud at how many people came out despite the weather.”

The grand total for this year’s event wasn’t available at deadline Friday night, but Boyd shared the amount raised by Pike County for cancer research this year was about $120,000.