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Fundraiser begins tonight
Relay benefits cancer research
Relay For Life 2 es
Nancy Warren carries a Relay for Life banner during the 2009 event. This year’s fundraiser will begin Friday at the Cumming Fairgrounds. - photo by File photo
If you’re going

What: Annual Forsyth County Relay for Life

When: 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday

Where: Cumming Fairgrounds

Special events:
•Opening ceremony and survivors’ victory lap - 7 p.m. Friday
•Luminary ceremony in memory of those who lost their battle - 10 p.m. Friday
•Closing ceremony - 7 a.m. Saturday

For more: Visit
A North Forsyth High School senior won’t be spending this Friday night at typical teen hangouts.

Instead, Morgan LeQuire will be joining other area cancer survivors and their supporters at the annual Forsyth County Relay for Life.

The event, a primary fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, is set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday at the Cumming Fairgrounds. The fundraiser runs over night until 7 a.m. Saturday. Throughout that time, participants walk or run laps in support of those who have battled cancer and to raise money for cancer research.

LeQuire, who was diagnosed with a “rare, malignant and fast growing” brain tumor called Pineoblastoma in September 2009, will join several other Forsyth County students as special ambassadors at the event.

The students, all of whom have battled some form of cancer, will lead Relay activities such as the survivors’ victory lap, which is limited to those who have fought the disease.

“I’m really excited about it,” LeQuire said.

The teen realized something was wrong when she began having severe headaches, blurry vision and slurred speech.

“I would get confused and not even be able to answer simple questions like where I went to school,” she added.

Her symptoms went on for only about a week before she had to be rushed to the emergency room from school.

“[The ER doctors] took me straight for a CT scan and saw a mass in my brain,” LeQuire said.

She underwent surgery, which removed about 90 percent of the tumor, and later a highly specialized type of radiation treatment for about three months in Houston before returning home just before Christmas.

She’s still undergoing chemotherapy treatments, which are expected to continue until the end of this year, at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Numerous other cancer survivors like LeQuire are expected to attend Relay.

Organizing committee co-chair Valery Hall said more than 1,200 individuals have signed up to participate, among them around 300 survivors.

Hall said every attendance goal set for the event as already been exceeded.

“We have 88 teams signed up to date, our goal was 80,” she said. “Our goal for participants was 900 and for survivors was 250.”

She hopes the fund raising goal of $250,000 will also be met. Last year, the event raised $243,000.

Relay is open to everyone, whether or not they have already signed up to attend, and Hall said there will be something for everyone.

“We have quite an impressive lineup of entertainment, food and activities scheduled for all ages,” she said. “Things such as dancers, cloggers, singers, ‘Relay Idol,’ a scavenger hunt and other games and a special luminary ceremony are planned.”

“Relay is open to the entire community and is a family-friendly event,” added Suzanne Hendricks, community manager with the American Cancer Society.

While the event does provide much fun and games, Hall said the most important aspect is honoring those who have battled cancer.

“In 2010, over 500 Forsyth County residents will be diagnosed with cancer...and 175 will lose their battle,” she said. “By coming and participating in [Relay for Life], you are helping the American Cancer Society save lives, helping people get well, finding cures and fighting back.”