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'Why We Relay' video inspires cancer-fighting campaign

Co-chair Colby Coren rallies volunteers for Relay for Life. Co-chair Colby Coren rallies volunteers for Relay for Life.

Katie Temple got an assignment in middle school to make a report on a word and how that word affected her life. She made a video. Her word was "compassion."


The short video, which she updated when her cousin died of cancer, was the star of the show Saturday when about 70 volunteers gathered to kick off the 2014 Henderson County Relay for Life campaign. Now a sophomore at Hendersonville High School, Katie made the video to honor her cousin, Amy Melkonian, who died of cancer at age 32. It's called "Why We Relay."
Few in the hall at the Elks Club could hold back tears at the power of the video, said Joy Williams, who is coordinating public relations for this year's event.

Volunteers donned Mickey Mouse ears and big Minnie Mouse bows to highlight this year's theme, "When You Wish Upon A Cure."
The 2014 campaign is bigger than ever, organizers said, because the Hendersonville and Fletcher campaigns have merged after nine years as separate efforts.
"We are further ahead than we have been in the past," said campaign co-chair Colby Coren, youth minister at East Flat Rock First Baptist Church. "We're double what we were a year ago. Bringing the two Relays together has definitely been exciting. We are now one of the biggest events in Western North Carolina."
Co-chair Carol Burke, who is cancer registrar at Pardee Hospital, said the reunion of the north and south has brought new energy.
"I think it gives it more of a sense of a community," she said, "rather than having two separate groups. It brings people together that ordinarily wouldn't be together."
The campaign has set a goal of $247,000 — because fighting cancer is "24-7." Organizers hope to recruit 80 teams, 30 cancer survivors, 1,000 participants total and 2,000 luminaries.
The Relay for Life is from 6 p.m. Friday, May 16, to 6 a.m., Saturday, May 17, at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher. Team captain training is Thursday, Feb. 6, at Pardee Hospital, which is a major sponsor of the event.
The first fundraising event is the new "Dancing for Life" competition sponsored by Dancing Creek Studio in Fletcher. On Saturday, Feb. 22, eight couples will compete in ballroom dancing in a "Dancing with the Stars" format, said organizer Stephanie Bennett.
Couples are Joe Babocsi and Mary Cruz dancing Samba, Kevin and Stephanie Bennett dancing Mambo, Craig and Crystal Conner dancing Rumba, Ken and Nichole Frote dancing Cha Cha, Tom and Janet Leazenby dancing West Coast Swing, Anthony and Khrissy McKinny dancing Merengue, Ed Skrivanek and Diana Reid dancing East Coast Swing and Joe and Jeanne Rechner dancing Bolero.
Celebrity judges will offer comments but the donations will determine the winner. The couple that raises the most will be crowned champion.
The event starts with a social hour at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 and the dance competition at 8 at the Elks Lodge. Tickets are $30 per person. For tickets contact Frank Valenta at 828.654.9708.
The Relay for Life website is www.Relayforlife.org/hendersonnc.