BOONE — On its silver anniversary, citizens from all over Watauga County gathered at Watauga High School and Jack Groce Stadium on Friday, June 14, to deliver the message that cancer can’t and won’t win.

As of June 18, the 2019 Watauga County Relay for Life has raised $64,403.68, which is close to the organization’s goal of $70,000. According to Brian Barker, chairman of Watauga County Relay for Life, there’s still money to be counted from the silent auction and concession sales. People have until Aug. 1 to donate.

“I think it shows how serious cancer is as a health problem to our community,” Barker said. “It shows how dedicated our committee and teams are to recognized our survivors. And those who died of cancer will not be forgotten.”

The relay event on June 14 was a celebration of life for those who have endured cancer, either through the fight or loss of a loved one or their own battle. Groups who have been raising funds met on the field, inflatables were available for kids to play on and a silent auction was held.

“Our cancer survivors here this evening represent just a fraction of the cancer survivors in our community,” said Barker prior to the survivor’s lap. ‘When you walk your lap, you walk for them.”

The relay had the survivors lap, led by the color guard from the High Country Military Officers Association of America and cancer survivors Margaret Sigmond and Sheila Storie, who carried the survivor’s banner.

Dozens made the walk around the field, applauded by those in attendance. Each survivor held a purple pinwheel, signifying those who have passed away from cancer but still shine on in the lives of those who remember.

The Luminary Walk was held following sunset, led by Judy Ward and her daughters.Barker noted that along with being a cancer survivor, Judy is the widow of longtime relay committee member Dean Ward, who died of cancer in May.

In its 25 years, Barker said that the Watauga County Relay for Life has raised more than $4.5 million.

To donate to the Watauga County Relay for Life, visit and search by zip code.

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