Relay For Life of Stephens County is celebrating more birthdays, while recognizing people who made it happen.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the non-profit organization will host the ninth annual Survivors Dinner at the Simmons Center. The dinner is used to recognize cancer survivors and caregivers, while providing them with entertaining.
“Years ago, we used to have a dinner before Relay,” Pat Bowles, who does survivorship for Relay For Life of Stephens County, said. “But it got big. So we decided to do a special event for it.”
Bowles, a 27-year cancer survivor, has been involved in Relay For Life since it came to Duncan 19 years ago. Because of her survivor history, Bowles has always found herself drawn to leading survivorship with Cookie McCullough, another cancer survivor.
For several years, the two women have headed up the survivors dinner.
“We want to recognize the survivors and their caregivers,” Bowles said. “And we want to entertain them.”
This year’s entertainment is Keith Woods.
Every year, a guest speaker is brought in to talk to those in attendance. This year, Doug Baker of Cushing, will talk about the caregiver side of things. Baker is on the speaking circuit for the American Cancer Society.
The event will also have door prizes, in addition to dinner.
Survivorship is one of the biggest tiers focused on by Relay For Life. Bowles said a lot of work is done to get more survivors involved with the program.
During the Relay For Life of Stephens County event, which takes place during the first weekend in June every year, survivors take the first lap of the night. In recent years, balloons have been provided to the survivors so they can release them as part of the lap. This year’s event is set for 6 p.m. June 7 with the survivors lap starting at 7 p.m. The event will go to 6 a.m. June 8.
About halfway through the survivors lap, caregivers meet their survivors and finish out the lap with them.
“We’re equipped to take everyone.
As part of the survivors dinner, the Pat Bowles Spirit Award is presented to someone who has gone above and beyond for the cause. Bowles was the first recipient two years ago, and the award was named for her before it was presented.
Last year, Gina Flesher was the award recipient. Bowles presented the award last year and will do it again this year.
“This is the third year for that,” Bowles said. “No one knows who it is yet. It’s a secret.”