MT. JULIET – They came to give cancer "the boot" at the annual Relay For Life event at Charlie Daniels Park Friday night and into Saturday morning.
It's a team relay of people walking and running laps at a track to raise donated funds to aid the American Cancer Society's fight against cancer.
City officials moved the event from outside at Charlie Daniels Park into the community center due to rain. The change didn't diminish the enthusiasm. At around 6:30 p.m,. a survivor lap kick-started a night of activities geared to focus on the fight against cancer. Those in the survivor lap included Mt. Juliet Public Safety Director Andy Garrett. He survived throat cancer and proudly walked the lap around the center.
"It's humbling," he said. "I hate to give you a two-word statement. I'm blessed, and so are the others. I say never give up."
City Finance Director John Rossmaier also walked the lap. He survived prostate cancer.
"I'm proud to do this, and I'd do it again," he said. "I've had a lot of great friends go through this."
At 9 p.m., Garrett spoke during the luminary ceremony. Music, fun and games filled the night that included a campfire song and basketball.
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectoral surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society. He decided to personally raise money for the fight against cancer by doing something he enjoyed, running marathons. In 1985, he spent 24 hours circling a tract in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. He raised $27,000 with donations per lap to fight cancer.
His vision turned into more than 5,200 Relay For Life events across the U.S., and more than $5.4 billion in fundraising to save lives from cancer.