Destin resident Jean Grieve is many things to many people; friend, wife, mother, volunteer and survivor. But, one thing Grieve is not is a complainer.
"It literally took my breath away . . . . when I heard the words, 'you've got cancer,' " said Grieve who was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (the most common type of skin cancer) less than a year ago. "I was actually diagnosed on my mother's birthday."
Thankfully, added Grieve, her cancer was detected early enough and was successfully removed a few weeks later.
"I'm blessed, I know there are so many more out there who are suffering far more than I could possibly imagine, so I don't complain," Grieve said.
The American Cancer Society has long been known as the official sponsor of "more birthdays," and the way they celebrate is with the Relay for Life events held yearly throughout the country. This year, the American Cancer Society celebrates a milestone birthday and relay as the ACS reaches its 100 year mark.
Of the 400 or more people who participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Destin last weekend, a number of them were cancer survivors, so Grieve was in good company.
Grieve told The Log that she's been involved with the relay for a few years, but this is the first year that she is serving as the event chairperson, due in part to her personal struggle with the disease.
More than 30 teams entered the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Destin this year. Taking place at Morgan Sports Center on May 10, all of the teams, volunteers and sponsors walked with commons goals — to raise funds in the fight against cancer, to raise awareness, to celebrate cancer survivors and to remember those who have lost the battle to cancer.
Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday evening, the relay rolled on until 11 a.m. Saturday morning, with people walking all throughout the night.
Destin resident and Relay for Life participant Leslie Soley told The Log that there was always someone walking during the event, with some people logging upwards of 400 and 500 laps.
"Some of the teams walked in shifts," said Soley. "But there's always someone moving. Some of the kids get pledges for the laps they walk; it's a lot of fun."
Throughout the 17-hour relay, Grieve estimates that about 400 people came out to lend a hand and volunteer, to walk with a team or just offer words of encouragement.
"The overall mood of the relay was really upbeat, positive," said Grieve. "There was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from the teams."
The mood during the relay was kept lifted through various games and activities, including zombie, line dancing, a glow in the dark lap and a chubby bunny marshmallow eating contest. A DJ was also on site all night providing walking music for anyone who started to get tired and fall behind.
According to Grieve, the estimated amount of money raised was about $60,000, but there are still some donations to be spoken for.
"We exceeded our monetary goal by 50 percent, which is unheard of," said Grieve. "This is an incredible achievement and a testimony to the teams and their dedication to this worthy cause."
For more information on the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life, visit www.Cancer.org.