Gerety heading local Relay effort
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Every year about this time there is a lot of talk about Relay for Life. This cancer awareness and fundraiser seems to get bigger and better each year, but it doesn't happen without a lot of work.
Paula Gerety is serving as chairman of the Relay for Life committee for the second year in a row, and has been involved with event for the past six years. She started as a team member at St. Maurice Catholic Church and then moved up to team captain. The next year she was the entertainment and activity chairman and then co-chairman before moving into the chair position.
Gerety was born in Newport News, Va., but moved to Enterprise not too long after her father died. She attended high school in Enterprise and graduated from Enterprise High School.
After she graduated from high school she moved to Dothan and attended Troy State Dothan. She also took a job at Dothan Brace Shop where they made orthopedic braces and prosthesis and wheelchairs.
She met Doug Gerety while she was living in Dothan and they continued to date even after he got a job at T.R. Miller High School as a teacher. Two years later, in 1998, they were married and she moved to Brewton. She transferred to Jefferson Davis Community College and earned an accounting degree. She also took a job at Hines Realty where she continues to be employed, going from appraisal assistant to accounting manager. She oversees the payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable.
She and her husband are the parents of two little girls. Sarah Grace is 5 and Lauren is 2 years old. They attend the YMCA preschool. Gerety belongs to the St. Maurice Catholic Church where she teaches the high school level in Sunday School. She is also a Eucharistic minister at the church.
Gerety says she loves to play bridge and she meets with the Brewton Bridge Bunch once a week with the other nine members of the club.
Gerety is also on the Covenant Hospice Advisory Board, is a graduate of Leadership Brewton and has been a Girl Scout leader.
The biggest challenge for Gerety this year is chairing the Relay for Life event. The 14-member Relay for Life Committee works for about six months out of the year getting ready for the once-a-year event in March. This year there are also 14 teams participating with several of them being repeats from past years. The committee does recruit new teams from the schools, businesses, neighborhoods and churches. Many of them begin early raising money for their teams. There are also several corporate sponsors with Southern Pine Electrical Cooperative being the title sponsor. The teams contribute their own money and have various fundraisers throughout the months leading up to the main event, which this year will be held at the Brewton YMCA on March 18.
On that day the team members will gather at the YMCA with the purpose of having fun and raising even more money to go toward fighting cancer. The event was held at the Brewton Municipal Stadium (T.R. Miller High School) for many years, but the decision was made to move to the YMCA so there would be facilities in case of inclement weather.
The opening ceremony will begin at noon with a survivor's lap and luncheon as a way to honor those who have had cancer and survived. Some of them usually stay on throughout the day. There will also be a luminary service after nightfall to honor those who have survived and remember those who did not. Throughout the day there will be various events for each member of the family to enjoy including games, family events and plenty of eats to go around.
There will be booths taking donations and raffles for various items. One of the funniest events is the womanless beauty pageant and it is always a riot. It takes a lot for those men to dress up the way they do and perform for the crowd. In addition, there are people walking throughout the whole day to raise awareness of cancer and the need for a cure. Each team is supposed to have a team member on the track at all times. It is a way for everyone to have fun and yet raise cancer awareness at the same time.