The American Cancer Society’s signature event, which is not being slowed in the wake of last week’s devastating outbreak of tornadoes, is appropriately tag-teaming with the East Tennessee Disaster Relief Rally.
The rally is spearheaded by Cleveland native Steve Watson, who now lives and works in California, and whose face is most familiar to those who have followed his work with “Monster House” on the Discovery Channel and with subsequent program successes on the DIY Network and Fox Sports, as well as coming endeavors on the Travel Channel.
It won’t be his first triumphant return to his Cleveland hometown.
Years ago, Watson brought his film crews to Bradley County for the renovation and remodeling of his mother’s home and also the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
Coming back to his roots is an admitted grassroots effort by the TV star to help his community back to its feet in the wake of the April 27 devastation that took the lives of nine Bradley County residents, destroyed at least 285 homes and damaged more than 300 others. The storms also wrecked two schools, neither of which will be used for the rest of this school year, and it also leveled several area businesses.
Joining Watson in the Disaster Relief Rally will be Jamie Higdon, a Nashville musician and vocalist who will provide a musical tribute to Bradley County residents whose determination to rebuild their homes and regain their lives is being aided by thousands of big-hearted volunteers and dozens of relief agencies that are partnering their work under the umbrella of the Cleveland-Bradley Emergency Management Agency, the Hiwassee Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Bradley Baptist Association.
Although countless numbers of churches, civic groups and community organizations are conducting campaigns to help their neighborhoods, congregations and causes, all are being asked to operate through, and in partnership with, the lead groups.
It is a daunting task but evidence of its success is already being seen as EMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army and Baptist Association volunteers are becoming more and more organized.
The first few days all were spent in a reactionary mode, which is common in any major disaster response.
Since last weekend, the relief effort has become more of a well-oiled machine whose sense of organization is fanning out to all Bradley County areas in vast need of support, supplies, volunteers and encouragement.
Watson, who is not only bringing his desire to help by way of the Relief Rally, is also bringing his hammer and an energetic zeal to help his Cleveland and Bradley County brethren rebuild.
The Relief Rally partnership with this weekend’s Relay for Life is not only appropriate, it is welcome news.
Just like another Friday night downtown event — the start of this season’s Evening Shade Concert Series — the Relief Rally and the Relay for Life will give Bradley County residents a breath of fresh air and a refreshing escape from storm recovery.
The Relief Rally kicks off at 9 p.m. Friday at the Bradley County Courthouse. It is a splendid partner for this year’s Relay for Life.
We encourage our community residents to attend.
We urge our neighbors to bring their support.
We hope all will enjoy.