Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Town fights cancer with "Chair for Life"

Mocksville in Davie County is one of those small N.C. towns where everyone knows each other -- and their family lineage too -- and tend to stick up for one another.

So it is that many in town (20 northeast of Statesville) seem to know a lot of people who have cancer or are touched by the dreaded disease. And that is why the town's annual Relay for Life, the nation's largest fund-raising event to fight cancer, is more like a family affair than a town event.

"Everyone in the county comes together to work for that event," said Will Marklin, owner of Daniel Furniture Co. with his father Johnny. "It's very moving, a very big bonding event for the community."

Which started a fun and creative fund-raising effort at a time when creative measures are needed.

Mocksville's upcoming Relay is set for a week from Friday, July 31. It will be all the more special with the silent auctioning of 20 slatted-seat-and-back chairs turned into artistic expressions by dozens of local residents -- proceeds going to Relay for Life.

The idea was Marklin's. His store buys wooden chairs from Troutman Chair Co. in the town of Troutman. Last year, Troutman Chair owner Champ Land showed the Marklins a photo of one of his slatted chairs painted red and blue with white stars for a July 4 celebration.
That got idea waves churning in Will Marklin's brain: We could have a chair-painting contest and give the money to Relay for Life.

So they bought unfinished chairs from Land for under wholesale and sold them to anyone who wanted to enter the contest for $25 (which the Marklins donated to Relay). They got the Davie County Arts Council involved and locals stepped up and created 18 expressions of art that were auctioned off and raised $986 for Relay.

For the upcoming Relay, they've done the same thing. This time, individuals or teams painted 22 chairs (see above photo). One chair tells the history of Davie County. One's an Hawaiian luau. On another, a mother has decoupaged the Boy Scout merit badges earned by her soon-to-be Eagle Scout son. Still another has the head of a lion painted on the slats. A cancer group painted one chair brown with a pink ribbon.

They call the contest "Chair for Life" and put it up to a "people's choice" vote, displaying all the chairs at the Brock Performing Arts Center, a converted high school. More than 300 voted for the top three.

Those who entered the contest could keep their chair, or donate it for the silent auction. All but two will be auctioned the night of Mocksville's Relay for Life.

"The Relay is a beautiful thing," said Sidniee Suggs, the arts council's executive director. "These chairs are so important to the event; they show the compassion that so many people have for the cause. It was quite astonishing to see how they turned out."


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