Dedicated to the cause of finding cancer cure

Messenger photo by Renee Gannon
Anita Adkins and her nephew, Joshua “Jay” Lickliter, are active members of the local American Cancer Society Relay For Life committee. Their inspiration is Lickliter’s mother (Anita’s sister), Sally Ann Riggsby, who passed away due to cancer in 2014. Riggsby is pictured on the memory board Lickliter is holding.

(Posted June 5, 2018)

By Renee Gannon, Staff Writer

It’s not every day that one meets a 12-year-old who has four years under his belt as a member of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life committee.

In a recent interview with the Madison Messenger, Joshua “Jay” Lickliter of London held up a memory board he assembled in honor of his mother, Sally Ann Riggsby, who passed away due to cancer on Jan. 28, 2014, at the age of 41.

“The photos were taken around Christmas, not long before she passed away,” Lickliter said of his memory board. “Memory boards are made up of photos of loved ones who have passed away from cancer. We take them and hang them on the fences of schools where the (Relays) are held.”

This year’s Relay for Life is set for 6 p.m.-midnight June 9 at Jonathan Alder High School. Madison and Union counties are jointly hosting the event.

When asked what inspired him to join the Relay for Life committee, Lickliter said, “My aunt just told me that they needed someone for the committee, and I wanted to get more involved with the cure for cancer.”

Lickliter’s aunt (Riggsby’s sister), Anita Adkins, has battled cancer, too.

“I had cancer seven years ago and my work has been very involved in Relay for Life, so I just asked him to join. Needless to say, everyone just loves him!” Adkins said.

“Jay was awarded the Inspiration Award for Enthusiasm in 2014 because he is so enthusiastic about finding a cure and helping raise funds,” she continued. “Last year (at Relay), he sang the National Anthem a capella and he nailed it.”

Many opportunities exist for volunteers on the Relay for Life committee. Some folks handle social media, Lickliter included. Others head up the auction or the survivor/caregiver dinner. Lickliter and Adkins are in charge of the luminaria event “which is a pretty big deal,” Lickliter said.

Luminarias are bags decorated in honor or memory of cancer patients and set out around the track. They can be purchased by donation before or at Relay.

“As it begins to get dark, we light the bags with glow sticks, then someone reads the names of the people who have passed and it gets real quiet. After that, we all take a silent walk around the track. It’s pretty special,” Adkins said.

When referring to her sister, Adkins said, “I really miss her. We were so close, and I know that she is watching down on Jay and I know that she is proud.”

“We see cardinals all the time. That’s how I know she’s watching over us,” Lickliter said, adding that he is learning to play the clarinet his mother played when she was in school. “I plan on being in the marching band when I get into eighth grade.”

As for his future involvement with Relay for Life, Lickliter said, “I plan to stay on the committee until they find a cure.”

For more information about the event, go to A deejay, food trucks, games, prizes, a bounce house and fun family activities are all part of Relay. Admission is free.

Previous articleJune 9: Relay for Life at Jonathan Alder
Next articleIt’s official: MP income tax passes


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.