All it took was one look at the faces rounding the track at Veterans Memorial Park to know that hundreds of Dawson County residents have not just survived cancer, but have thrived.
The local Relay for Life event held Friday night raised $10,287 and put the group over its halfway mark for their 2013 fundraising efforts.
"Our goal is $90,000 this year and, after this event, we're over $50,000," said Andrea Shoemaker, American Cancer Society community manager for Dawson and Hall Counties.
She also said that cancer survivors and current cancer patients can pull strength from gatherings in a community setting like Relay for Life.
"They're able to really pull strength to say, 'I can do this,'" she added. "I've had people come up to me and say that they felt they did't really have any fight left in them, but coming to Relay gave them the strength they needed."
Shelly Broes, dressed in a T-shirt and camouflaged ballet tutu, was walking to honor Kenneth Stewart, 12, who recently passed away from a rare form of brain cancer. Her husband, Sal Broes, walked to honor two of his Army buddies who fought with him in Iraq and Afganistan Jay Cook and Sid Lajeunesse.
Entertainment was provided by (GET NAMES) and several school formed teams to participate including Blacks Mill Elementary and Riverview Middle School.
"There was an 83-year-old man who had never been, but when he read about the event, he decided he needed to get out of the house and come participate," added Shoemaker. "That's what this is all about providing a venue when survivors feel encouraged and supported.
"I was so impressed at how hard the teams worked."