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Miss-Lou Relay event takes home awards

NATCHEZ — The Miss-Lou Relay for Life event took home three top prizes at an awards ceremony last month including national recognition for the sixth year in a row.

The annual ceremony, which was in Hattiesburg this year, is hosted for volunteers of the event and teams that raised more than $10,000.

All awards are per capita events and based on county population and amount raised.

This year, the Miss-Lou Relay was ranked No. 1 in the state, placed in the top 25 of the mid-south division, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, and fifth in the nation per capita.

Janis Holder, accounting chair, said while all the awards are valued equally, being fifth in the nation was received with plenty of excitement.

“It’s extremely humbling when you go to these conferences with 25,000 people and you get to see our city’s name show up on the screen,” Holder said. “It definitely makes you want to hold your chest out a little further, but it’s really all thanks to our community.

“It never ceases to amaze me of the heart the people in our community have.”

Another internal celebration, Holder said, came from this year’s event topping the amount raised from last year’s event.

“We don’t really set goals every year because we just say we want to match what we did the year before,” Holder said. “It’s always so difficult to tell when you’re going to have a good year or not, but we were pleasantly surprised with this year’s results.”

The 2012 Miss-Lou Relay raised $211,842 up from $193,687 raised in 2011.

Apart from the hard working volunteers and generous community members, Holder said the credit also goes to all the teams in the area that work year around to raise funds.

Four teams raised more than $10,000 in 2012 and were recognized at the event. They were:

The Markets — $25,575.

 Delta Bank — $18,969.

Team Educators — $17,532.

Wal-Mart — $14,895.

The extent of the Miss-Lou’s generosity, Holder said, is something that can’t be attributed to one specific cause, but having so many residents affected by cancer plays a role.

“Sadly, Relay seems to do better in a community where they have lost a prominent citizen to cancer,” Holder said. “Unfortunately, there are quite a few in this area, but I think it says a lot about our community and the generosity they have for their fellow person.”

Taking home one of several community volunteer awards was Cathy Hill who won the “fight back community volunteer award.”

Hill, who has been involved with the Miss-Lou Relay since 1997, works with Dr. Jack Rodriguez to coordinate the survivor reception and helps survivors register for the event.

“I got started with Relay because at that time my mother was undergoing chemotherapy, and it was important to her that we do that,” Hill said. “I just kept it up after she passed away, and she’s really what keeps me going through the years.”

Hill said she was flattered to receive the award, but that the real honor comes from the awards received by the entire event.

“It’s kind of humbling that a community this size raises that much money,” Hill said. “It goes to show that are a lot of people in this area touched by cancer, and I think when you’re personally touched you open your pocketbooks a little wider.”