What Makes Ronnie Roll: Relay For Life Returns

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Mayor Ronnie, Holly Hollman, and I met on what actually felt like a “back-to-normal” Monday, and the focus was the fact that at least in part, Relay for Life is back. Our community is a strong supporter of the fight to conquer cancer, and as this year’s theme states, “Cancer may have started the fight, but we will finish it.” Even though 2020’s Relay was cancelled, still money was raised, and our community was not cowed by COVID. For example, the Bass Tournament was cancelled, but all of the sponsors said, “Keep it” when it came to the sponsor donations. And, in spite of the cancellations, they raised $12,500.

More good news is that the 10th Annual Relay for Life Bass Tournament is back in full! It is going to be held on Saturday, May 1 at Ingalls Boat Harbor on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, from safe light until 3 p.m. There is a guaranteed payout of a total of $6,000, the early entry fee is $100 per boat, and the morning of the tournament the fee will be $110.00. Lunch will be provided for all registered boaters. There is a registration form and more information available online at www.athensal.us  or you can go to West End Outdoors-Hwy 72 West or Athens Utilities at 1806 Wilkinson in Athens.

They then told me about this year’s Relay as it pertains to Athens-Limestone County. “The American Cancer Society is still keeping things pretty strict this year, so the only thing that will happen is the Luminary Ceremony,” said Holly. The ceremony will be held on May 14 on the Marion Street side of the Limestone County Courthouse, and the Courthouse will be lit up in purple. “The Luminary Ceremony is for those people who currently have cancer, those who have beaten it, and those who have passed,” Holly told me, by way of history, luminarias started in Mexico. They are paper bags with sand in the bottom and votive candles. Often times holes are punched with hole punchers in various patterns to disperse the light. The luminarias this year will be prepared by the Mayor’s Youth Commission and will be in white bags with LED candles and sand in the bottom. They will be on display at the Courthouse.

Next year, the hope is that Relay will be rockin’ like it used to, with the Survivors’ Walk, the all night walk, the Celebrity Waiters’ Night, food, fun, and a fierce commitment to end cancer once and for all. Because of COVID, there are a whole bunch of T-shirts from 2020 that are available for ten bucks. Holly told me that she especially misses the Survivors’ Walk, and is greatly looking forward to its return.

The Athens News Courier is another organization that gets into the fight, and annually publishes a section in their paper that is dedicated to Relay for Life. It includes in the paper, letters written by team captains that talk about their “why” when it comes to Relay. As Mayor Ronnie said, “I don’t think I know anyone here in Athens that has not been affected by cancer one way or another, and that is why we do this.” It was time to pray, so we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner