By virtue have having a half-dozen events, including its own signature main event, in the month of April, almost the entire month of April from beginning to end is shaping up to be “Relay for Life” month in Hope.

By virtue have having a half-dozen events, including its own signature main event, in the month of April, almost the entire month of April from beginning to end is shaping up to be “Relay for Life” month in Hope.
Next week will kickoff the month-long festivities with the local Relay for Life Survivors banquet at Hempstead Hall on Thursday, April 5; four weeks later will be the Relay for Life itself, with Relay night happening Friday, April 27 at the Hope Fair Park grounds.
The now annual “Paint the Town Purple,” where businesses are decorated in purple and many employees wear purple shirts, is scheduled for Monday, April 16, with judging scheduled for Thursday, April 19. According to a statement from longtime Relay for Life Chair Jessie Lewis, the judges will be from out-of-town. Purple has been well-known for years as the signature color of Relay for Life. Lewis said teams will ask local businesses to decorate their establishments with purple for support.
In between, there is everything from softball tournaments to beauty pageants.
On Saturday, April 7, First National Bank Tom Bean will host a Relay for Life sale inside their bank as a fundraiser.
Then, on Saturday, April 14, Heather Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation will host the now-third annual Relay Co-Ed Softball Tournament at Kelly Fields in Hope.
If softball is too intense for some, then on Friday, April 20, Southern Bakeries is hosting the much more laid-back Relay Golf Tournament.
The Miss Relay Beauty Pageant, appropriately headed by current Miss Southwest and two-time Miss Arkansas contestant Suzie Gresham, happens on Saturday, April 21. Gresham was also honored last year as Hempstead County Relay for Life "Rookie of the Year.”
An update from Lewis on Thursday said there are currently 19 Relay for Life teams signed up.
Lewis is well-known in Hope for her efforts in leading Relay for Life in Hempstead County for 12 of the past 20 years. For the past six years, Lewis has either chaired or co-chaired the Hempstead County Relay for Life, and she has won numerous accolades from the organization including Heart of Relay Award for Hempstead County 2011, Relay for Life Volunteer of the Year Award for Mid-South Division 2012-2013, and Relay for Life Most Valuable Player Award 2013.
Lewis has long credited volunteers and people in the Hope community for keeping the Relay for Life going strong over two decades now, especially over a period of time that many Arkansas rural communities have either consolidated or disbanded their Relay events.
"Every day there is someone diagnosed with cancer; there is always someone who knows someone, a relative, a friend, who has been affected by cancer," Lewis said.