RALEIGH, N.C. – Although cancer took her parents’ lives and nearly took her own, Mary Mullins of Raleigh never gave up hope.
Mullins, a teacher at Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School, now wants to help the American Cancer Society raise money through its biggest annual fundraising event, Relay For Life.
On April 25, Mullins will be on the campus of N.C. State University, hosting a reception for cancer survivors and their families during the Raleigh Relay For Life.
The goal of this year’s relay in Raleigh, one of more than 3,300 relay sites throughout the U.S. this year, is to raise $110,000.
The event offers participants and visitors more than a chance to raise money, says Mullins, one of more than 2.2 million volunteers who this year hope to raise more than the $243 million the relays raised last year.
“I knew how important the American Cancer Society’s work is for cancer patients and their families and wanted to help the society help others,” she says.
Twenty-five years ago, Mullins’ father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Four years later, her mother was told she had thyroid cancer.
In 1997, while caring for her mother, Mullins was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments, suffered mouth sores and hair loss, and became so tired she had to take a leave of absence from her job,
Her participation in Relay For Life played an important part in her recovery, she says.
Mullins and some colleagues formed a Relay For Life team and participated in 1998 in the Raleigh event, one of six in Wake County, and has participated every year since.
Before the overnight event on the campus of N.C. State University, teams raise money for cancer research by selling luminaries to those interested in honoring friends and family members struggling with cancer.
During the race, individual members of dozens of teams take turns walking around NCSU running track for 24 hours, symbolizing the ‘round-the-clock struggle faced by cancer patients.
“When a new patient and his or her family learn I have been cancer-free for five years, it gives them hope,” Mullins says. “And you can not measure the value of hope in dollars and cents.”