Jackie Mullenax loves being involved in the Mannington Relay for Life.
In fact, she was a big force behind the creation of the event in Mannington four years ago.
Mullenax got involved with Relay because of her grandson Patrick O’Brien, of Bridgeville, Pa., who passed away July 27, 2009, from neuroblastoma.
O’Brien hadn’t had any previous symptoms, but woke up with a stomachache one day. After his family took him to the emergency room, they found out he had Stage 4 cancer, Mullenax said.
She said her grandson went through many treatments, and she spent a lot of time staying with him at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
“He grew up fast,” she said. “He was 6 years old when he was diagnosed, and he died when he was 8. He was a jewel. He was something else.”
Mullenax has also seen other family members struggle with cancer. She said she plans to stay active with Relay for Life as long as possible.
“I just think it’s great for the area,” she said. “(People) love it and they enjoy it and they want to talk about it.”
On Sunday afternoon, community members and volunteers like Mullenax, who is a team co-captain, gathered at the Mannington Church of Christ on Main Street for the kickoff event for the 2014 Mannington Relay for Life.
People could stop by to sign up to join a team or start their own team for the event, which will take place Friday, May 16, at Hough Park. This year’s theme is “Caring Hearts Wrapped around Relay,” said Stephanie Teets, who co-chairs the Mannington Relay for Life with Sandra Parenti.
Members from different committees were present Sunday, and individuals had the chance to register to help with those efforts. The organizers were especially looking for someone to lead the team recruitment and retention committee.
Some of the teams represented were the Blackshere Bandits, Scouting for the Cure, Helping Hands, First Christian Church, Jaws of Life, Sharing and Caring, and Jeff’s Crew.
Teets, who is also team captain of Scouting for the Cure, said teams have been selling items and holding raffles to raise money for the cause, and many events are being planned for the coming months.
The volunteers involved with the Mannington Relay for Life meet regularly at Veterans Corner on Market Street to discuss plans. Their next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20, with a committee meeting at 6 p.m. and a team captains’ meeting at 7 p.m.
The group is organizing “Santa’s Lunch,” which is basically a baby-sitting service, for Saturday, Nov. 30, Teets said. This activity was started last year to give parents a safe place to drop off their children while they take care of their Christmas shopping. The kids can enjoy games, crafts and stories and meet Santa Claus. The time and location is to be determined.
Relay for Life will participate in the Mannington Christmas parade, which is Dec. 7 at 6 p.m., and is creating a float. The volunteers are also looking into the possibility of planning a couple’s dinner or dance for Valentine’s Day.
“We have a lot of cancer survivors right here in the community,” Teets said. “It’s our chance to give back to them and the caregivers. The person that you cared for all that time may be gone, but you still have those memories.”
Mannington Relay for Life starts at 6 p.m. on May 16 and lasts until 6 a.m. the following day.
“Every Relay is different, and that’s what makes them awesome, because they’re volunteer-driven events,” said Jill Zangari, Relay for Life specialist with the American Cancer Society.
She explained that the cancer survivors will kick off the event by making the first lap around the track, which is always a moving moment. Then family, friends and caregivers who supported those battling cancer will join the survivors for the next lap.
As the Relay continues, each team always has at least one person walking around the track, and they take turns walking the whole night. The teams also sponsor games and activities, and the participants enjoy telling their stories, Zangari said.
Teets said a Vera Bradley Basket Bingo is being planned for that day beginning at 10 p.m.
Luminaria bags, which are sold throughout the year, are decorated in honor of people who are currently fighting cancer or are cancer free, or in memory of those who lost their battle with cancer. During the luminaria ceremony, the white bags are placed all the way around the track and the candles inside them are lit, as people remember the purpose of Relay for Life, Zangari said.
The event wraps up with a closing ceremony on Saturday morning.
Zangari said more than 300 people — including 47 survivors — participated in the Mannington Relay for Life last year. The 19 teams raised almost $43,000.
“It’s a time for the community to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer,” said Ryann Moore, Relay for Life specialist who is working with Marion County.
Interested individuals can register for the Mannington Relay for Life online at relay.org/manningtonwv.
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.
Jackie Mullenax loves being involved in the Mannington Relay for Life.
- Local News
5-year-old Christian Miller attempting to build normal life after multiple heart surgeries
Christian Miller was born with a broken heart.
He came into the world prematurely, when his mother, Jill, was just 30 weeks pregnant. Her water broke randomly in the middle of the night, most likely from an infection, the doctors told her.
Legislators busy until closing bell ends session
In Charleston, the final day of the legislative session came to a close at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, with the closing bell.
Legislators had until that bell to pass legislation, so that it can be put it before the governor for his signature.
Pothole repair expected to begin soon
Anyone who drives knows the poor condition most of the area’s roads are in.
But the pothole-ridden roadways aren’t just a problem in Marion County. And now the West Virginia Division of Highways is planning a multimillion-dollar effort to fix pothole damage across the state.
Ham, Bacon and Egg Show offers significant rewards
The Marion County Future Farmers of America held its 13th annual Francis Marion Ham, Bacon and Egg Show at the Marion County Technical Center Friday.
Dr. Larry Watson is the advisor for the program and an agricultural education teacher at the Marion County Technical Center.
UPS driver inducted into Circle of Honor
UPS driver Eric Falkenstein has been inducted into the Circle of Honor, a prestige earned by driving accident-free for 25 years.
This year, Falkenstein, of Fairmont, became one of four West Virginia UPS drivers inducted into the Circle of Honor. Falkenstein says he owes his accident-free driving to his training.
Make-A-Wish sending young cerebral palsy patient to Texas theme park
Even through 10 surgeries and countless doctor appointments during his 11 years of life, Malachi Parker has kept a smile on his face.
“When he would wake up after his surgeries, he would still be smiling,” Sue Godfrey, Malachi’s aunt, said.
‘Pretty exciting day’ coming at Legislature
The first session of the eighty-first West Virginia Legislature is finally winding down.
Legislators will be meeting for the final day of the regular session Saturday. The session will run until late into the night, with the session finally ending at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
State rocket teams in national competition
West Virginia students are currently working on rockets that could potentially take them into the top 100 teams across America as part of the 2014 Team America Rocketry Challenge.
Seven hundred teams in 48 states, Washington, D.C.. and the Virgin Islands, including teams from Morgantown, Fairmont, Martinsburg, Glenville, Chapmanville, Inwood, Weston, Farmington and Paw Paw, must build a model rocket that can travel 825 feet in the air and come back down again in 48-50 seconds.
Grant application for Tulip Lane approved by West Virginia Development Office
Improvements are on the way for a heavily traveled road in Pleasant Valley.
During Wednesday’s Marion County Commission meeting, Charlie Reese, director of the Marion County Development Authority, told commissioners the grant application for $150,000 for the Industrial Park Access Road Fund has been approved by the West Virginia Development Office.
Colfax closer to better water, sewer system
Residents in the Colfax area are one step closer to a better water and sewer system.
During a public hearing with the Marion County Commission on Wednesday, commissioners made a motion to sponsor the Colfax Public Service District as it applies for a Small Cities Block Grant.
- More Local News Headlines
- 5-year-old Christian Miller attempting to build normal life after multiple heart surgeries