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Purple reigns this week for Relay for Life

NATCHEZ — The speck of purple here and dash of purple there aren’t meant to just brighten up your morning drive this week.

The ribbons, wreaths and marquees carry a message aimed at firmly yanking your heartstrings — and your wallets.

Relay for Life in the Miss-Lou is not so much a one-night affair as it is an industry, and this week brings payday.

The annual all-night affair starts Friday evening, but between now and then organizers hope to paint the town purple.

Purple ribbons are on sale for $5 each from participating Relay teams, but local residents are also encouraged to get creative with their purple paintbrush.

Miss-Lou Relay Chairman Bridgid Martin suggests purple placemats and desserts for local restaurant owners, purple shirt day at the office and purple-themed displays in your house or business window.

Purple is the color chosen by the American Cancer Society to signify a cancer survivor.

“It’s all about supporting those people in purple,” Martin said. “And this community does come out and show its support.”

Evelyn Stigall of Vidalia made a purple wreath for her door, displayed purple ribbons, and, with a little luck, has blooming purple flowers.

“I have too many people that have cancer and have had cancer,” she said. “So far, my family has been blessed, but we know too many other people with cancer.”

The Miss-Lou Relay usually draws approximately 2,000 people and routinely ranks tops among per capita fundraising.

The 2009 Relay raised $249,921 and had 55 teams, ranking it No. 2 in the nation based on community size.

Fundraising by approximately 50 teams began months ago.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College Team Captain Vonnie White said the students have gotten behind the project well this year.

“The students work hard on it; it’s a big thing,” she said. “It’s sometimes hard to manage with so many people going in so many different directions.”

Co-Lin enlists the help of the students in a marketing and event planning class to get their team organized.

Students and faculty have hosted a Guitar Hero night and an iPod raffle to raise money.

Friday night they will be selling T-shirts, continuing the raffle and selling lap necklaces. For $3 Relay participants can buy a necklace at the Co-Lin tent. Each time they make a lap, a Co-Lin team member will give them a bead for the necklace.

White said she anticipates raising approximately $1,000 this year.

Glenburney Nursing Home hopes to have closer to $2,000 when fundraising is complete, Administrator Amanda Floyd said.

The “Rounding up for a Cure” tent manned by Glenburney staff will be selling crawfish and rice, boiled peanuts and toys for the kids.

Tent setup on the Vidalia Riverfront near Promise Hospital will begin Friday afternoon with the survivor’s reception at 5:15 p.m. Music begins at 6:15, followed by the opening ceremonies at 6:30.

Tents selling food and more will remain setup all night until 7 a.m.

The main stage will have musical entertainment and games and dancing will occur throughout the night in the track’s center.

Walkers will make laps all night.

Only lightening will cancel the event.

All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

Purple ribbons are for sale at Smith Printing in Vidalia or Glenburney Nursing Home in Natchez, among other locations.

Luminaries honoring loved ones can be purchased as well. Donations can me made to any Relay team listed at www.relayforlife.org/misslou.

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