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Annual dinner celebrates survivors
Relay Dinner pic 1
Cancer survivor Annette Stewart places her fingerprint on the Tree of Hope while her daughter, Nicole, and Relay for Life staff partner Brooke VanBuskirk watch. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

With Relay for Life only a few days away, the local arm of the American Cancer Society held a dinner last week to celebrate those who have fought the battle.

The Dawson County Relay for Life team held its annual Survivor's Dinner on April 17 at Dawson County High School. The evening highlighted the survivor's stories, giving reasons for both present and future generations to help find a cure.

"When I found out I had cancer, I was very withdrawn and almost embarrassed by it," said Annette Stewart, a 25-year cervical cancer survivor. "I think it's a good thing, what [Relay for Life] is doing, to let people know that it's not something to be ashamed of."

Relay for Life gives cancer survivors and supporters a chance to unite as a community to honor survivors, raise awareness of reducing cancer risks and collect funds to help the American Cancer Society.

"I didn't want anybody to know, but now I'm OK with it," Stewart said. "I think it's good, getting everybody together to let people know that they aren't the only ones out there."

It's something that Stewart's daughter, Nicole, said she remembers being a part of her life, too, but not fully understanding, being only 5 years old at the time of diagnosis.

"I didn't really understand it was cancer at the time. I just remember being little and wondering why she was sick," she said. "Then, when she went into remission, she sat down and told me and I never really understood how serious that it was."

It's because of her mother that the younger Stewart got involved in Relay.

"So many people know someone that is affected by cancer," she said. "Mom had three sisters pass away from cancer, so, for me, I know it's probably coming. I feel that, while I'm young, I can contribute to helping find a cure."

This year's Relay theme is "A Carnival of Hope."

Plans call for carnival style games, food, clowns, balloons and other sights one might see at a carnival.

"We have all sorts of games and activities planned for Friday," said Event Chair Beth Covington. "We have sack races, egg toss, a bounce house, our Mister Relay Womanless Beauty Pageant, music from Little Mountain and all sorts of carnival-themed food."

Last year, Dawson County raised more than $51,000 for the American Cancer Society. As of Tuesday, 16 teams and 231 participants have registered and raised nearly $19,000, according to the county's Relay site.

The all-night 2014 Relay for Life event starts at 6 p.m. Friday at Veterans Memorial Park, and will end at 6 a.m. Saturday.

For more information, visit or call Brooke VanBuskirk at (770) 297-1176.