Nucor – Hertford gains national fame

Published 5:04 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

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COFIELD – Nucor Hertford County was honored here June 20 for being among one of the top fundraisers nationally for Relay for Life.

Officials with the American Cancer Society presented Nucor with the National Team of Excellence Award, the Top Fundraising Team (#4 nationally), and the Hero of Research – Champion of Mission Award. The latter award allows Nucor Hertford County to gain naming rights for a two-year cancer research grant, one of only five Relay for Life teams nationally to earn that status.

In 2003, Nucor Hertford County raised $188,269.75 for the Hertford-Gates Relay for Life. The top three fundraising teams nationally hailed from big cities: New York, Chicago, and Austin, Texas.

“It’s very special for us to be a part of and support the American Cancer Society. They’re such a great organization,” said Bill Vaughan II, Nucor-Hertford’s Environmental Health and Safety Manager.

Bennita Dunham, Senior Manager of Community Development for the American Cancer Society, was among the ACS officials on hand to praise Nucor-Herford for their hard work and dedication to support the ongoing fight to eradicate all forms of cancer.

“All the money you raise goes to programs and services of the ACS, to include the Hope Lodge in Greenville,” Dunham said. “Nucor is one of those teams that I’ve seen during my 11 years with ACS who go above and beyond. They have a payroll deduction program, they sponsor an annual golf tournament, and an annual Halloween costume contest…all to benefit Relay for Life. Nucor loves to help the ACS, our programs, the cancer survivors and their families. We are so, so grateful. I love you guys and gals.”

She encouraged those who are in need of ACS offerings, to include getting involved in Relay for Life, to call, toll-free, 800-227-2345. Dunham said that number can also be used for volunteers to sign-up for the Road to Recovery program, people who transport cancer patients to and from their medical appointments.

Richard Averitte, Executive Director for the American Cancer Society’s Central and Eastern North Carolina region, talked about the Hope Lodge in Greenville, a 20-room facility that allows cancer patients to stay, for free, while they undergoing treatments at ECU Health.

“That’s something tangible that we can get behind and support,” he said. “It’s a place where patients, and their caregivers, can find respite. It’s a place where they can gather and talk about their journey in battling cancer.”

Averitte said over 340 people used the Hope Lodge last year.

“That’s where some of your money goes from Relay,” he noted. “In essence, you impacted 340 lives last year alone.”

Those attending Thursday’s event watched a video message from Glenn Callihan, Vice President for Development for Southeast Region of the ACS.

“Congratulations on your Hero Research Award,” Callihan said. “You are just one of a handful of teams across the country to achieve that status. It took a lot of hard work on your part, but you are an amazing team and we’re happy to have you as a part of our team.”

Callihan said since 1991 (the year of the highest death rate from cancer), the number of cancer related deaths have declined 33 percent.

“That doesn’t happen without true partners like Nucor Steel,” he stated. “You have been by our side for a long time. The $188,000 this year pushes your total to $1.6 million over the years. That’s impressive. Thank you all.”

William Riddick, who serves as the captain of the Nucor Hertford County Relay for Life team, said the honors bestowed by the ACS were “very humbling.”

“It’s not just about those who are part of our Relay team; it’s about the 500 teammates we work with here at Nucor Hertford County who donate to the cause, year in and year out,” Riddick said. “And none of this happens without managerial support. I’m thankful for the managers here.”

Riddick also thanked the committee (comprised of his fellow co-workers) that oversees the fundraisers and participation in Relay for Life.

“They are constantly thinking about how we can do things better,” Riddick noted. “They are very innovative. There’s a lot of hard work that goes in to our golf tournament, which raises around $50,000, and our Halloween costume contest, which this year bought in $12,000.”

Riddick added that operating a steel mill requires various equipment. When that old equipment needs to be replaced, it is auctioned off to employees and the money generated through those sales is donated to Relay for Life.

“Being involved in Relay for Life is a very emotional experience,” Riddick observed. “Everyone in here has their own story regarding cancer. For me personally, my story is my mother. She is a colorectal cancer survivor. The money raised by Relay for Life gave my mother back to me. With advances made through cancer research, funded by Relay events, and early detection and medicine saved my mother. I will always support Relay for Life. The work we do here to raise money does more than just save lives, we change lives.”

Riddick’s pride was on full display when he spoke about Nucor Hertford County being honored as the number four fundraising team nationally for Relay for Life.

“This is little old Hertford and Gates counties; your sons, your daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, and neighbors,” he stressed. “This has happened right here in your backyard. This is historic beyond measure.”

Riddick recognized the Nucor Relay for Life committee members present for Thursday’s celebration: Carrie Cutchins, Harley Draper, Cindy Harrell, and Jackie Parker.

He challenged everyone not to wait for cancer to impact their life or the life of someone they love and then decide to get involved with Relay for Life.

“Take something out of this gathering today and join the movement or start your own movement,” he stated. “If you need some information, talk to me or anyone with the American Cancer Society.”

Averitte closed the event, challenging those in attendance to dream big.

“Volunteering is a privilege of time and time is our most precious commodity,” he remarked. “The fact that Nucor Steel of Hertford County provides an opportunity to volunteer is incredible and the fact that you choose to spend your time with the American Cancer Society is sacred. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate that.

“Can you dream big with us? We all have goals. We have a big goal and that’s to eradicate cancer. Nothing is off the table, so dream big with us,” Averitte concluded.

The 2024 Hertford-Gates Relay for Life is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 6 at Chowan University. The event is open to the public.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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