Relay For Life support needs to continue

Published 5:10 pm Friday, June 29, 2018

One of the first assignments I went off to during my time in Erwin as a reporter was a Relay For Life celebration at Unicoi County High School.

It was an event I was familiar with back from my high school days. Being part of the student council at Hampton High School, one of our projects was working the Carter County Relay For Life, which was held at that time at the now-named LaPorte Track.

Laughs were had by all. A bunch of high school students running around. It was for a good cause, but I didn’t truly understand the impact it has on the public.

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But in the capacity of being a reporter and walking in for the benefit at UCHS, and seeing the tears being shed and the love floating in the air — it was a quick reminder that this event isn’t just about fellowship.

Cancer is a common issue everyone deals with in life. We can all look back and know someone — or in most cases, several people — that have been affected by the disease.

That is why events like the Relay For Life need to keep going strong for communities across the country. Each event allows community groups to join together for the common cause of raising funds to defeat cancer, while looking back at the brave men and women that didn’t allow a disease to dictate their life.

Locally, Carter County recently capped off the annual event at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Elizabethton campus with over 400 people joining together to support life and “HOPE” for the past, present and future.

Greg Odom, who serves as the co-chair for the Carter County Chapter, took time out following the event to thank the sponsors, volunteers and TCAT for the event.

“We couldn’t do all of this without them,” he said.

It is that community togetherness that needs to continue for the years to come. Each event is used as a way to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. With such a steadfast mission, the need for help each year continues to grow.

And that’s where the public comes in. If you happen to have some free time during a weekend, get a couple of friends together and sell some treats or organize a car wash. Something that small can be used as a way to raise funds for a cause that affects us all. Even in today’s society, even sharing a post for an upcoming event can make waves for Relay For Life’s message.

The need for support is apparent and always encouraged. To get involved, be sure to visit the Carter County Relay For Life Facebook page or contact a local member for more information.


The journalism world was rocked Thursday afternoon after the tragic report of a shooting at the Capital Gazette in Maryland that claimed the lives of five people.

National outlets are deeming the incident as a “targeted attack” on the newspaper.

Often lost in the ruckus of the regular “fake news” tirades is the fact that reporters and photographers don’t enter this profession for the pay or ego-driven thought process.

Being involved with a newspaper takes pride and dedication. Sitting through budget hearings or workshops. Taking in the occasional one-hour long phone calls. Pushing to make sure a story is able to make it in before deadline.

It’s a thankless job, but the pride and dedication is something that just burns bright in every reporter.

A reporter’s job is to dig through the facts. Make sure all sides are represented. To make sure the public is informed.

In the majority of cases, a journalist’s goal is to make sure all facts are presented, all sides are represented and that the public is kept informed of all the happenings going on.

It is a job that doesn’t please everyone. You can’t make everyone happy with a report. But it’s the pride and the passion that drives every reporter to make sure each online or print story is written to the best of his ability. That’s what the job is all about. We are supposed to be the blank slates with our reports that give the public all the documented facts.

It’s heartbreaking to read the stories of the men and women that lost their lives in the attack.

The Capital Gazette spent time publishing stories remembering the lives of the victims and one that stuck out to me was John McNamara.

A copy editor at the Gazette, sports reporting was his passion. But over the course of his career, he dabbled in other bits of reporting before finding his way back to the Gazette.

According to the story written by Andrea K. McDaniels of the Baltimore Sun, “Mac” was a jack of all trades. From copy design to extensive knowledge of regional sports, McNamara was well known for his wit and humor and being able to get the job done for over 20 years.

Seasoned journalists like “Mac” are what the up-and-coming crop of reporters need to aspire to be. It wasn’t about a paycheck for the editor, he did the job because of the joy it brought. It was about the stories, both written and lived out.

In this job, it doesn’t matter how passionate you are, as the newspaper-landscape continues to shift and duties continue to grow — burnout can be expected.

It’s something I’ve been through recently. Sometimes after running the car around, fielding the calls and working the late hours, you start to over think and question things. I’m not certain what the future holds but after reading up on “Mac”, it helped me reaffirm that passion. Over the years, he continued doing something he loved. I’m not certain what the future holds.

In today’s society, the public needs individuals like him and the others at the paper that are willing to put their life in harm’s way in the mission to make the public aware of what’s going on.

Even in the course of the chaos, Gazette reporter Chase Cook posted on Twitter, “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”

Needless to say, with journalists like those at the Capital Gazette, newspapers aren’t going to go down so easily.

As cliche it may sound, thoughts and prayers from the Elizabethton Star are going up for those that are affected. It doesn’t matter about competition or where you are in the country, all newspapers need to band together to support each other and our goal of keeping the public informed.

Curtis Carden is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Elizabethton Star. To contact Curtis, email or call (423) 297-9057.