Hempstead Relay welcomes new leaders for 2019

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
Celebrated at the Chamber of Commerce Community Coffee on Wednesday morning, Hempstead Relay for Life introduced its new leadership team as well as announced its 2019 incarnation of the event for Friday, April 26 at Fair Park in Hope.
Janet K. Choate was introduced as the new 2019 Hempstead Relay for Life Chair, succeeding the group’s longtime leader, Jessie Lewis. Choate is well-known in the region as an assistant vice president at Farmers Bank & Trust, and similar to Lewis, Choate has made her own footprint of community service over the past few years, being involved in the Hope Lions Club as a board member, the Chamber of Commerce as a board member, the Blevins Volunteer Fire Department as a fire fighter, and previously a Relay for Life committee member and team captain.
Another well-known and community-involved individual, Dave Phillips, will be Relay’s Vice Chair for 2019, serving with Choate. Phillips served as an MC during the Relay’s Celebrity Waiter event last fall, while wearing a mouse outfit, but he has also established endowed scholarships at UAHT as well as working with the Hope Lions Club among many community endeavors and contributions.
Other new 2019 Relay for Life leaders include Christy Burns, who will head the annual Relay softball tournament presented by Heather Manor; Mark Ross, who will handle publicity and media relations, along with Amy Smith.
Kayce Wright, a regional coordinator for the American Cancer Society, was also in town for Wednesday morning’s Relay coffee. Wright announced the 2019 Relay for Life’s main event for Friday, April 26, starting at 6 p.m. at Hope’s Fair Park. She also said the theme this year will be “Board Games,” harkening back to old time favorites like “Monopoly,” “The Game of Life,” and other popular board games of the past.
As some Relay for Life groups in Arkansas and elsewhere have been challenged to continue or have joined forces with other Relay organizations, Wright noted that the Hempstead Relay for Life has continued to do well.
“The Hempstead Relay for Life remains one of our strongest organizations in southern Arkansas; they continue to do a great job here,” Wright said. Wright, who works out of a regional office in Benton, said some notable Arkansas counties, like Pulaski County, don’t have a Relay for Life organization.
Choate said that Lewis will still be involved on the Relay committee; another well-known Hempstead Relay leader with Lewis, Racheal Cuellar, who coordinated the Celebrity Waiter event the past few years, has since relocated to Texarkana.

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