Walking the right path

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

LUTCHER — St. James Parish held its annual Relay for Life event this Saturday in Lutcher Park with much success.
This year’s theme was “Rockin’ For A Cure.” With the help of hundred of teams, individuals, sponsors, committee members and dedicated survivors, the event successfully raised more than $44,000 in one night alone, according to Kassie St. Pierre, director of marketing for St. James Parish. St. Pierre said that the year’s total earnings add up to more than $157,000.
This year, 15 sponsors donated almost $28,000 toward the fight against cancer. Sponsors are listed in descending order of contribution: Mosaic, Americas Styrenics, Nucor, Zapp’s Potato Chips, Motiva, Noranda, New Orleans Fireman’s Credit Union, St. James Parish Hospital, PotashCorp Geismar and Louisiana Federal Credit Union
The walking track around the festivities rippled with walkers of all ages. Robert Gilbert pushed his wife Hilda’s wheelchair slowly around the walking track, looking for the paper bag inscribed with the name of their daughter, Dianne. The couple lost her to lung cancer seven years ago but were not downtrodden or sad during the event.
“I had (womb) cancer in 1955, and I have a son that’s got cancer. I just thank God I’m still here,” said 86-year-old Hilda Gilbert. Her husband, Robert, said that she is the oldest cancer survivor in the Parish.  
In addition to food, live music, vendors and games, fun competitions were held throughout the night to encourage participation from teams and the crowd. Several teams were awarded for their fundraising efforts, tasty treats and creative campsites. Nucor won the Light of Hope Award and St. James Parish Government won the first place Sweet Winner award with their Heavenly Hash. The Best Decorated Campsite went to Team Loque, with the the theme “Marga-Relay-Ville.” The event also featured a survivor guest speaker, Joan Lebouef.
Event Chair Tania Louque said she was happy with the overwhelming response and community support. Louque said it was not just about fund raising even though the event fell a little short of the $159,000 goal — the central idea of Relay for Life is to raise awareness and honor cancer survivors and lost loved ones.
“The turnout has been really really great (and the) teams have done a fantastic job going along with the theme,” said Louque. “Before the event started we were (already) at $106,291.”
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization
dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. For more information about the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
For more information about future Relay for Life events in St. James Parish, email Tania Louque at tanialouque@yahoo.com, or visit the St. James Parish Relay Facebook Page.