STORY BY EMILY REED
When Miss Relay For Life Queen Emilee Smith Placed the cancer survivor medal around her mother’s neck at the 2022 Relay, it was a moment she will never forget. “I have watched my mom receive the survivor medal at Relay For Life for six years,” Smith said. “To be able to put that medal around my mom’s neck was a memory I will never forget. That is what this title means to me: bringing awareness, education, and raising money to support research so that we have a long line of survivors to put survivor medals on every year.”
Her mother Jeannie Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago. Additionally, Smith has lost three grandparents and a special uncle to cancer, so the platform is something that is important to her. Smith was named Miss Relay For Life Queen in April, but she is no stranger to the Relay For Life organization. “
I have been involved in Relay For Life for as long as I can remember,” Smith said. “As Miss Relay For Life, I have a plat-form. That platform is to bring awareness for the need to raise money for The American Cancer Society through Chilton County Relay For Life. Money that will be used to continue research to save lives and support cancer patients and their families with tools and resources to help them as much as possible while fight-ing cancer. This experience to serve at Miss Relay For Life is something I am thankful for.”
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising event dedicated to saving lives for cancer, according to information from The American Cancer Society. For more than 35 years, communities across the world have come together to honor and remember loved ones and take action for lifesaving change.
“As Relay For Life Queens, we attend a lot of community events,” Smith said. “As Miss Relay For Life, my desire is not to be just another girl with a fancy crown. I want to be the community influencer that people facing cancer can come to with questions. I want to be able to talk to the 10-year-old little girl whose parent was just diagnosed with cancer. I want to hug her and look her in the eyes and tell her it is going to be OK. It is going to be OK because our county has rallied behind Chilton County Relay For Life along with thousands of other counties across the United States, supporting The American Cancer Society. That we have jumped on board to support financially, to commit to tell others about the Hope Lodge in Birmingham, to tell others about 24-hour support available to anyone with a cancer related question, and to share how we have millions of research dollars at work right here in Alabama. I want to hug that little girl, because eight years ago, I was that little girl.”
During her reign as Miss Relay For Life, Smith and the other Relay For Life queens want to make the community aware of the need for volunteers to serve on the Relay For Life committee. “I want to see our county passionate about the color purple, the color for cancer survivors,” Smith said. Gaining five new queen sisters is an aspect Smith has enjoyed about being Miss Relay For Life. “We can laugh about just any-thing together,” Smith said. Additionally, Smith has support-ed those with cancer by donating a total of 34 inches of her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths to be used for wigs for cancer patients. Smith lives in Maplesville, and-she graduated from Maplesville High School in May. She is now a student at the University of Montevallo where she is pursuing a degree in elementary special education.