The day of hope endures

Published 7:33 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A passionate group of people gathered recently on a Saturday morning at Ellis Acres Memorial Park in Dillwyn to unite in the fight against cancer as part of the fifth annual Hope Day.

Donna McRae-Jones, who helped organize the day’s activities, said more than $7,000 had been raised in connection to Hope Day, with the money going to Buckingham Relay for Life.

She noted how she has seen many touched by cancer, drawing her to work with and promote Buckingham Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

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“I’m just real passionate about a lot of co-workers, lot of family members, and when I retired, I got back to working with it, because my job kept me on the road,” she said.

Hope Day featured a morning program with scripture reading, prayer, a sermonette, a check presentation and testimonies from cancer survivors. In the evening a Relay for Life Luminaria Ceremony was held to remember those whose lives have been touched by cancer, offering an opportunity for reflection on the courage and strength of all affected by it.

A program handed out at the morning meeting further noted the origin of Hope Day.

“Five years ago (Dillwyn) Mayor Linda V. Paige proclaimed the fourth Saturday in April as Hope Day, and we celebrate the month of April placing purple bows around the Town of Dillwyn,” the program reads.

During the morning event, to which Mayor Linda Venable Paige welcomed everyone, the Rev. John Moxley read a scripture passage and offered prayer.

Scotty Edwards and Travis Toney presented a check of $2,400 to the American Cancer Society and Buckingham Relay for Life after having raised the money in their recent fifth annual Buckingham County High School alumni car and bike show.

Pastor Billy Swann presented a sermonette, and then multiple cancer survivors shared details from their personal experiences.

Attending Hope Day for the first time was Debra Davis, who gave an emotional testimony. She had an extremely rare form of cancer called a thymoma. Then she said that her husband, Carey Davis, who was caring for her, ended up being diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.

“It’s been eight months,” she said, noting when he died.

To benefit Hope Day moving forward, she offered the resources and support of the organization she works for, Central Virginia Health Services, noting that her boss would love to be involved.

McRae-Jones also shared the multiple ways in which cancer has touched her own life.

“One sister I lost, she went fast,” she said. “She had ovarian cancer. … She was 19; I was 11. My older sister, we lost her about eight years ago. She was 65. She had a cancer, and they had beat it, but then it came back. She had liver cancer.”

“With my mom, her’s was fast,” McRae-Jones continued. “… Her favorite holidays were Christmas and Thanksgiving, so my prayers were that we would not lose her during that time, and she got to see her 94th birthday in January.”

McRae-Jones expressed gratitude to those who helped raise funds to fight cancer in connection with Hope Day.

Major contributors included Kyanite Mining Corporation, which donated $2,500. Jewel Harris donated $1,300. Earlier in April, Pino’s Italiano & Grill in Dillwyn did an all-day fundraiser, and McDonald’s in Dillwyn held a Purple Dining Out event to help raise money.

Among other sponsors and contributors, McRae-Jones also highlighted Rocky Mount United Methodist Church, the Town of Dillwyn, Reid’s Funeral Home and Russell Enterprises.