April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Relay for Life to walk for a cure Saturday

By HSJ Online [email protected]

The sixth annual Relay for Life of Hope will be taking to the Hope Town Square Saturday.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, organized this year by Jonna Shepherd. The rain location is the Hauser fieldhouse.

"The Relay is to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer and to remember loved ones lost and to fight back against the disease," Shepherd said.

In 2009, her husband Larry was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next year, Hope held its first Relay for Life.

"It came at a time that we really needed it, because by the end of 2009, Larry's cancer had gone into remission," Shepherd said. "We were really excited and it was a time to celebrate, so we decided to form Team Larry for my husband and we have been Relaying ever since. He passed away Sept. 24th, 2011 and we have continued it on."

The number of teams have fluctuated over the years starting with eight teams and dropping to as low as four. But this year's event will have seven teams, Shepherd said.

"When I took it over, I decided that we needed to rejuvenate the program," Shepherd said. "The Downey's, Harry and Betsy Downey, had laid the groundwork, a solid foundation. But we just needed to bring some new spark to it and try to get new people in and hopefully that is what we are going to accomplish this year."

Although the Town Square is decked in purple for Saturday's event, Shepherd said the Relay is not just about the day. It also is about fundraising for a cure throughout the year, she said. There has been several earlier events tied to the Relay including a Valentine dinner in February and a storefront contest for businesses around the square who decorated in purple.

"We also had a Hope Elementary School coin drive, this is the first year we have done that," Shepherd said. "They came close to almost $1,000 -- They raised $694.43 and that I thought was amazing for little-bitty Hope Elementary School."

The Hartsville Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand with a fish fry from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and there will be other food such as Sloppy Joes and hot dogs for sale. Her son will be leading a motorcycle ride that starts at 12:30 p.m.

And 14-year-old Macie Hill will be on hand with her snow cone machine.

"She loves making snow cones and so she has decided to start a little thing called 'Cones for a Cause' and all of her proceeds will go to the Relay,"Shepherd said. "That goes to show you that it doesn't matter how old you are, you can make a difference!"

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