A patchwork quilt hung on Renee Brockington's tent, covered in the names of loved ones who had endured multiple forms of cancer—her mother, three aunts and grandmother were among them.
"We're just trying to tackle it so another generation doesn't have to suffer—especially the women in our family, it seems to affect them more," Brockington said Friday night during the at Huber's Farm in Kingsville.
"We just don't want to hear those words, 'you have cancer,' anymore. And if we happen to hear it, we want to know there's a cure," she said.
Brockington helped organize two fundraising teams for the event, which benefited the . The relay included multiple themed laps around a grass track, a memorial candlelit "luminaria" ceremony, and contests. This year, more than 300 people registered to participate, an organizer said.
Brockington's mother, Edith Garrett, was the namesake of both fundraising teams, Team Edith I and Team Edith II. Garrett, a cancer survivor of two years, said participating in the relay is part of her new life's mission.
"It allows me to know that I am not by myself, and share myself with others, and the most important thing is that I can share God with others," she said. "Now my role is to make a difference and share the Lord. Everyone who has been in my life since I've had my cancer has made a tremendous difference."
Many of the relay teams had joined together in honor of a family member or friend who had suffered, and often succumbed, to forms of cancer.
Event co-chair Melinda Lipscomb first became involved two years ago after a close friend died from cancer. Last year, her sister was diagnosed with another form of cancer, she said.
This year, Lipscomb's team sold 222 "luminaria" bags as part of their fundraising effort. The candlelit bags, decorated with names, were part of hundreds that lined the grass track during a special memorial lap.
"It's just a little bag with a candle, but it's a light of hope," she said.
A severe lightning storm nearly canceled the candlelit portion, she added, but passed over the site in time for the 9 p.m. ceremony.
"There was lightning around us, but not over us," she said. "We relayed in the rain."
Many relay participants were still mourning loved ones lost.
Sara Gnibus, another relay co-chair, lost her mother, Kathy Fazio, to cancer on May 10 of this year.
"We had talked a lot before she passed. She wanted us to go on in her honor, to raise money and awareness. She had ovarian cancer," Gnibus said.
This year's event would have been Fazio's third relay.
"It takes many, many hours to plan this. I can't even count," Gnibus said. "But it's worth it."
A closing ceremony and slideshow from the event will be held at of Perry Hall at 6 p.m. on July 17. Community members are welcome to continue donating to the Relay For Life of Perry Hall on the American Cancer Society website's event page.