Relay for Life Darlington County set for May 5

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Relay For Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, is set to kick off its Darlington County event on May 5 at the Byerly Park Recreational Complex in Hartsville.

This eight-hour walkathon brings together hundreds of cancer survivors, caregivers, and all those who support the fight against cancer for a night of fellowship, fun, and remembrance.

The Relay evening starts at 6 p.m. with a celebration of everyone who’s been affected by cancer, whether they were diagnosed recently or are in long-term remission.

This is followed by the Survivors Lap, where those facing a cancer diagnosis hit the track and take the night’s inaugural lap. Anyone who has overcome cancer is invited to join. Next up is the Caregivers Lap, honoring those selfless people who devote their time and energy to caring for cancer patients. Caregivers often walk this lap with the person or people they are helping.

The Luminaria Ceremony features hundreds of small white luminaria bags often featuring names of loved ones lost to cancer, or those still waging the fight. Their bright warmth offers support and hope to the grieving and honors the survivors.

While many Relay participants will walk in stages, with group members tagging in and out during the eight hour event, Darlington Police Department Chief Danny Watson says that he plans to run most of the night, only taking breaks for rest and refreshments.

A veteran runner who racks up several miles nearly every day, Watson checks Facebook each morning and finds someone in his feed who is ill or enduring hardship and he dedicates his daily run to them, sending them prayers for strength and healing. In this same spirit, Watson says he and running buddy Curtis Boyd intend to churn out some miles at the Relay For Life, with each step generating positive energy for those involved in the fight against cancer.

“Over 140 people last year alone in Darlington County died from cancer, and that’s just the people who have passed away. There are so many other people out there who are survivors, who are fighting cancer, that you’d never even know,” says Watson, praising their courage and citing a favorite Bible verse that gives him hope during adversity.
“I always think about Philippians 4:13 – ‘all things are possible through Him.’ And that’s clearly seen at the Relay… it doesn’t just raise money for cancer research, it lets people know that they’re not alone, that there are people around to love them and support them,” says Watson.

Chief Watson and the Darlington Police Department also organized an April 8 hot dog fundraiser at Darlington’s Walmart and sold hundreds of Relay for Life “donation feet.” These donation markers now decorate the walls of Darlington’s City Hall, with all the little feet spelling out names of cancer survivors and those who have passed on. Watson says the DPD will soon meet its fundraising goal of $2,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Once all the walking and running is done – usually around 2 a.m. – the Relay for Life closing ceremony is a time for all participants and guests to celebrate the night, and to remember those who could not be present. It provides a moment of unity where Relay walkers, volunteers, and sponsors can reflect on the past and commit themselves to help end the pain and suffering of cancer.

Byerly Park is located at 700 Russell Rd in Hartsville. To learn more about participating, volunteering, or sponsoring the Relay for Life of Darlington County, visit them on Facebook or contact Chinel Boateng at (843) 245-8538 or email

Author: mrollins

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