UPDATE: Development Authority of Dawson County awarded $300,000 grant to help with manufacturer BTD’s local expansion project.
BTD's local campus expansion is set to bring 74 new full-time jobs to the new Dawson County facility.
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Relay brings hope, fun
Annual event raises funds for cancer research
2 Relay for Life pic1
Dawson County cancer survivors take a ceremonial lap around the football field track at Veterans Memorial Park to begin the 2014 Relay for Life. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

The 2014 American Cancer Society Relay for Life campaign culminated with fun, games and music last weekend.

Relay for Life gives the community a chance to honor survivors, raise awareness of lowering cancer risks and collecting funds to help the American Cancer Society.

This year's theme was "A Carnival of Hope" and featured carnival style games, food, clowns, balloons and other sights one might find at a carnival.

While the participation was lower than last year, Dawson County still came out to make it a success, according to 2014 event chair Beth Covington.

"Without the support and encouragement [of the community], this Relay would not be possible, "she said.

Last year, Dawson County raised more than $51,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year, 17 teams and 241 participants raised nearly $25,000.

Several guest speakers shared their personal experience about battling cancer, giving stories to uplift and encourage attendees, promising to continue the fight for as long as it takes.

"I just want each person to know that we're going to keep relaying until we don't have to Relay, because there's not going to be cancer anymore," said Gloria Wyatt, a cancer survivor and director of volunteers for Northside Hospital-Forsyth and Dawson.

The crowd was awash in color, with purple T-shirts signifying cancer survivors, green for family and caregivers and blue for event workers.

"This event brings everybody together. Believe it or not, there are people that do care," said Rhonda Stone, a 25-year survivor who attends Relay each year. "Events like this, to me, might not be very big this year, but it shows that there are people that really care."

And caring is what the event is about, to survivors like Denise Legano.

"I could never have gone through this without a caregiver. The caregiver is so important," she said. "They take you to your appointments, they hold your hand, whatever you want to do and they do it for you.

"The [treatment] is the part that makes you the most tired and [my husband] had to take off from work to take care of me. I wouldn't have made it without him."

For her caregiver and husband, Michael Legano, the strain of seeing a loved one go through the fight can be difficult.

"It was very stressful, in the beginning, as a caregiver," he said. "But then it got easier as it went on."

For both Leganos, the Relay is also about the fight.

"[Denise] is a very strong person, going through this," Michael Legano said. "From the beginning to now, she's been a fighter. She tries to help other people now."