Community center director Janis Burns and her staff decorated an orange table, which represented leukemia. The table featured artwork by the center’s after school students.
Phi Mu members served refreshments.
Weaver fifth grade teacher Tracey Edmondson Reeves, who is currently in remission, was diagnosed with colon cancer on Veterans Day in 2010. She helped organize the event and was assisted by others who have battled the disease themselves or have relatives who have. Tracey and her friend, April Jordan, just two members of Team Tracey, decorated two tables - purple for all kinds of cancer and gold for childhood cancer.
“Pediatric cancer is what I try to focus my efforts on,” said Tracey. “My heart and my desire is to help childhood cancer awareness.”
A blue table was decorated by Calhoun County Women Behind the Badge. Blue represents law enforcement.
After Jacksonville native and Anniston police officer Justin Sollohub was killed several years ago, wives of officers in law enforcement agencies in the county formed a support group to help Relay for Life.
“They’re doing this to show the community that they wanted to help,” said Tracey. “They weren’t just sending their husbands out, they wanted to be helping people in the community also.”
The organization is called Calhoun County Women Behind the Badge.
Tracey said she appreciated everyone who helped at the Tablescape, including fellow Weaver teacher April Jordan, whose husband, Chris, is resource officer at Jacksonville High School.
Tracey became involved in Relay for Life about 10 years when a student from Weaver was diagnosed and later died of cancer.
When Tracey was diagnosed, she and her friend, April Jordan, decided that they would become heavily involved in Relay for Life.
“We decided we’d do this year round,” said Tracey. “We wanted to help find ways to raise awareness for cancer through the American Cancer Society.”
Bayleigh Phillips, 16, an 11th grade student at Gadsden City High School was present. Bayleigh learned on Nov. 30, 2006, that she had inoperable brain cancer. Bayleigh said right now she’s on a break from taking chemotherapy and is scheduled to go for her next scan in three months.
“At that point, we’ll find out if I need to go back on chemo or not,” she said. “I’m feeling great. I’m keeping busy. It makes me feel bad taking chemo, but more than that, I just don’t have time.”
Bayleigh is involved in several organizations at her school, and she’s currently in the process of publishing a cookbook, with the help of her family and friends. It’s called “Dancin’ in the Rain and Cookin’ Up a Storm.” Those who would like to purchase can call Bayleigh at 454-0039 or call her mother, Dixie Phillips, at 312-2606.
The proceeds, said Bayleigh, will go toward her medical expenses.
Tracey said that, seeing all those faces at the community center - some old, some new - was just another reminder of what an incredible support system she and Bayleigh have.
“I know how strong she is and what a beautiful outlook she has on life, even though she is constantly going through treatments,” said Tracey. “To see a young lady with that strong of a spirit was success to me. We walked away knowing what kind of person she is. Even though she’s faced all these things, she’s ready to go out and do what she needs to do for herself and others.”
Tracey is due for another scan in a few weeks. She said her cancer isn’t genetic. There’s no family history.
Tracey has taught at Weaver for the past 15 years.
“I love being in the classroom,” she said. “That’s where I wanted to be the entire time I was going through treatments.”
She grew up in Saks and lives in Alexandria, with her husband, Stephen, a comptroller for Oxford Lumber. Their sons are Andrew, 10; Aaron, 7; and John Curtis, 6.
“We were happy with the way everything turned out this year,” said Tracey. “Next year, we’re hoping to expand and be a whole lot bigger. It was just another reminder to me of how much bigger we are than cancer. My message that night was that a lot of people get focused on what cancer can do, and it can do a lot of things. It can make us sick, lose our hair, or lose a loved one. It reminded me that no matter what happens, if I ever have a reoccurrence in my life, I have my family, my friends and my faith. Cancer can’t take that away. This is a cause that’s dear to my heart. I want a cure.”
Contact Margaret at email@example.com.