Police, firefighters compete for Relay for Life
MORGAN CITY, La. — The second round of The Guns and Hoses Battle for the Paddle will feature the best culinary offerings of area firemen and police men that will be a don’t-miss-affair for gumbo and jambalaya lovers.
After starting the good-willed competition to generate support and financial donations for the battle against cancer with a blood drive last weekend, the cook-off will be the last chance to gather points for the Guns (law enforcement) and Hoses (firemen) before the East St. Mary Relay for Life takes place at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium on May 18.
Highlighting the Guns and Hoses leading up to the relay is fitting since this year’s theme is “Super Heroes; Saving Lives One Lap at a Time.” The Relay begins at 5 p.m. and will conclude at 2 a.m.
The Relay for Life is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Teams camp out at a local venue and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times throughout the night because cancer never sleeps,
Participation in East St. Mary Relay for Life, from Patterson to Amelia, has jumped from last year’s nine teams to about 15 teams this year, according to Noel Birriel, this year’s relay chairwoman. Last year, they raised $35,000, with a goal to raise $50,000 this year, Birriel said.
Events surrounding the local relay have significantly expanded; the Guns and Hoses Battle for the Paddle is an example.
On April 20, East St. Mary Relay for Life raised more than $1,000 with a bass fishing tournament. Another event that day was the A.J. Dohmann Camaro Car Club Car Show.
Driftwood and Natural Satisfaction, two local bands, will perform at the Municipal Auditorium for the Relay, said Birrel.
Morgan City has lifted its noise ordinance until midnight so that participants can enjoy the music outside. Mac Bruno will be the disc jockey at the event.
As Birriel discussed the event she talked about how her love for her grandmother, Emiko Young, motivates her. Young succumbed to kidney cancer in Hawaii on Dec. 30, 2011, according to Birriel.
“I am still grieving (over her death),” said Birriel, as she paused momentarily to get control of her emotions. “I was very close to my grandmother. My drive is to do this relay. … It has been a lot of work but it is worth it.” She said that seeing the support from people for the event makes her proud to be part of the community.
Two of the highlights of most relays are the Survivors Dinner and the Survivors lap. The East St. Mary Survivors dinner was held at the AARP building on Chennault Street March 21. Birriel said that there were 75 to 80 survivors and family members at the dinner. The dinner was cooked and donated by Heath Landry, a cancer survivor and local firefighter.
As is typical for Relay for Life, the May 18 event will open with the Survivors Lap, celebrating what they’ve overcome, while inspiring and motivating their community to fight.
Probably the most emotional part of the ceremony is the Luminaria, according to Birriel. This ceremony takes place after sundown. Luminaria candles are lit representing a person — loved one, friend or acquaintance — that has fought the battle against cancer or been affected by it.
“It symbolizes a time to grieve for those we have lost, to reflect on our own cancer experience or that of those closest to us, and to find hope that tomorrow holds the promise of a cancer-free world,” said Birriel.
The event concludes with the Fight Back Ceremony. The American Cancer Society says that this emotionally powerful ceremony inspires Relay participants to take action. The Fight Back Ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment each person can make in the fight against cancer; for loved ones and for the community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives. The East St. Mary Relay will end at 2 a.m. with this parting ceremony, but the annual drive to raise funds continues through Aug. 31.
According to the American Cancer Society, each year more than 4 million people in over 20 countries raise much-needed funds through participation in the Relay for Life.