Local cancer survivors embark on the Survivors/Caregivers Lap during the 2017 Relay for Life celebration at East Lincoln High School. 

LINCOLNTON – In celebration of 25 years of Relay for Life in Lincoln County, the Lincolnton and East Lincoln chapters will come together for the first time to celebrate local cancer survivors and honor those who lost their battle with the disease.

“Lincolnton and East Lincoln are partnering together to celebrate 25 years of Relay in Lincoln County,” Lincolnton Relay for Life organizer Julie Pearson said. “The celebration will be held at Lincolnton High School, which is actually where the very first Relay event was held in Lincoln County back in 1994.”

Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, with more than 5,200 communities across 20 countries organizing events to raise awareness and money in support of cancer research. It is estimated that Relay for Life events across the globe have raised nearly $5 billion since the fundraiser was founded in 1985.

“The event is all about celebrating our survivors,” Pearson said. “It’s pretty emotional to see the sea of purple shirts that our survivors wear while they’re walking hand-in-hand. They all have something in common and they come together as one to celebrate their survival because it’s a huge moment worthy of the recognition.”

Take it from Debi Taffi, the owner of Lake Norman Gymnastics Academy in Denver, who now enjoys the Relay for Life celebration each year after beating stage three breast cancer in 2011.

“Now that I’m beyond all of that I’m just trying to move forward and be a survivor rather than a cancer patient,” she said.

Mike Cadenhead, another Denver cancer survivor who now coordinates the annual survivor’s dinner for the East Lincoln chapter, credits the local Relay for Life community for helping him through his battle.

“This community is very close-knit,” he said. “I’m very blessed to be here and very blessed to have had a lot of people in the community praying for me because I don’t know how a cancer patient can survive without that support system. That’s why we’re here now to let people know that they’re not alone in their battle.”

While Relay for Life is a therapeutic celebration for cancer survivors, the event can also provide a ray of hope for those recently diagnosed with the disease.

“There was a man who came to our Relay celebration several years ago who had just been diagnosed that week,” Pearson said. “As our survivors were walking and their names were being called out along with the number of years they had been cancer-free, he told one of our committee members that seeing all the survivors and hearing how long they had been without cancer gave him hope that he could kick the disease too.”

More than 200 local cancer survivors had already signed up for this year’s Relay event as of May 13, which is a significant number, according to Pearson.

The celebration will run from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Lincolnton High School football stadium Saturday, May 18. The event will start with the Survivors/Caregivers Walk and the Luminaria Ceremony is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Survivors who haven’t already received an invitation should contact Pearson at


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