Kingsport Relay for Life event raises $4,400; patient resources still available in the Tri-Cities

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Dozens came out to the Kingsport Farmer’s Market Friday night to raise money for cancer research as part of the Sullivan County-Kingsport Relay for Life.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is an event that remembers the people who’ve died from cancer, the people who’ve survived, family, friends and more.

The event is also used as a way to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s research in finding a cure for cancer.

When the Tri-Cities’ American Cancer Society office closed in Nov. 2016 viewers reached out concerned if resources would change since the next closest office is in Knoxville. We asked an American Cancer Society representative if that would be the case.

“Everything is pretty much the same since the fall since we closed the office,” Kayla Shelby, Senior Manager for Relay for Life East Tennessee said.

Shelby is also a cancer survivor and was once a volunteer with the organization. She said resources are still available but just in a different place.

“We moved all of our wig room, all of our resources that were at our office to the health resource center in the Johnson City Mall,” Shelby said.

The staff from that old office now works from home. While the stated goal for the closure was to cut costs, The American Cancer Society said it’s now more immersed in the community and more ready to fund and focus on the core vision.

That core vision is something that Diane Caldwell, cancer survivor and caregiver, feels strongly about.

“This is my mother, this is my dad, this is my brother and this was my soulmate,” Caldwell said.

Four of her family members have passed from cancer and she relays for them in their honor and she feels blessed to be a breast cancer survivor of 20 years.

“The good lord has been watching over me,” Caldwell said.

Teams also signed up to raise money for the cause.

Team “Sweet N Sassy” brought out 14 of their family members, two of them cancer survivors.

The team sold baked goods and homemade crafts for donations.

“It’s an honor to do it for them. It all is to find a cure; we won’t stop walking till we find a cure,” cancer survivor, Lisa Vaughan said.

This event is for a community where everyone has something in common.

“We all know how it feels to be told that you have it or has had cancer so it’s sort of a gathering of a distant family,” Caldwell said.

Organizers tell News Channel 11 the event raised $4,400 and the Kingsport relay teams are hoping to raise $40,000 by the end of the summer.

The American Cancer Society said literature is still available at Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont facilities. Several programs are available in the Tri-Cities including a patient transportation program, lodging programs for treatment out of town and classes to help women undergoing treatment and who are dealing with appearance related side effects.

If you have questions for the American Cancer Society you’re asked to call their information hotline at 1-800-227-2345.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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