Muscogee Co. cancer survivors, families walk for 23rd Annual Relay for Life

Muscogee Co. cancer survivors, families walk for 23rd Annual Relay for Life

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus is celebrating local cancer survivors and their families - all in an effort to raise awareness and money to fight the disease.

Thousands are walking The 23rd Annual Relay for Life of Muscogee County, on Friday, April 29, as part of fundraising teams helping the American Cancer Society. 

People have been out on the field, sweating since 6 p.m., but the heat hasn't stopped them from coming out to support the fight against cancer. 

Throughout the afternoon, everyone  at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium has been decked in purple, symbolizing the fight against cancer.

Around 7 p.m., survivors released purple balloons in the air to commemorate their struggle. 

Denise Dowdy, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, said she wasn't prepared to find out her mother had cancer, but she's glad she's at the relay
to support other survivors.

"I thought I was ready for that diagnosis," Dowdy said,  "but obviously, just like everybody else, you're never ready for that diagnosis. But thankfully,
she's good to go." 

At around 10 p.m., walkers and teams participated in the "Luminaria" ceremony - a candle lighting, honoring loved ones who have battled cancer or continue to battle it. 

Anika Major, a breast cancer survivor at Relay for Life, said she knew she could fight and beat her diagnosis with the support of family and friends.

"Of course, no one like to travel this road," said Major, a mother of four. "But, once you realize this is the road you have to travel, of course you're going to do everything you can to make sure you survive and win this fight."

Throughout the relay, teams composed of volunteers from local businesses and high schools continued to circle the stadium. 

The party will continue all night until the final portion of the Relay - the Paint the Town Purple 5K Fun Run, which will start at McClung Memorial Stadium and end at Columbus RiverWalk.

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