On Monday, November 16, 2015, Charles “Eddie” Long attended the Relay for Life Kick-Off meeting at the Front Royal Fire Department. Attending the annual meeting had become a routine over the years, but this time, Long was in for a surprise. Present at the meeting that evening was a woman Long didn’t know—and after being involved in Relay for Life off and on for over 20 years, Long usually knew everyone at Relay for Life meetings in Warren County. Eventually, the woman stood and introduced herself as Aimee Nuwer, the Community Manager of the American Cancer Society Office in Winchester. As she continued, all Long could do was listen in surprise.
Nuwer was there on behalf of the South Atlantic Division office of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia. “She stated how impressed she was with how our Relays are run and then she stated that we have in our presence tonight a celebrity,” Long recalled. Nuwer went on to explain that now that Tennessee and Georgia had finished all of their Relays, the final tally was completed for the entire South Atlantic Division, which includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, and West Virginia.
“We have among us tonight the number nine top fundraiser for the entire South Atlantic Region,” she told those gathered. “Charles Long.”
She went on to present a stunned Long with a beautiful glass award with his name, the division and the Relay for Life logo, along with the amount of money raised, which was $22,211.
“I was shocked to find out that of all of the Relays done and participants in all of these states that I was the number nine fundraiser,” Long said. “I was so honored to receive this award.”
The award did not come as a surprise to those who know the hard-working Long.
"Eddie Long has been a vocal voice for cancer research,” his friend and colleague Michael Williams stated. Williams is the director of student life at Randolph-Macon Academy. “After almost losing his own life, losing loved ones, and still experiencing this tragedy within his family, Eddie has made it a lifelong commitment to seek funds for research, experimentation and a hopeful, and eventual, cure for cancer. I am not surprised that Eddie has earned this award. His tireless and dedicated mentality to all that he does shines through in his wonderful work with the American Cancer Society.”
Long is a deputy sheriff in the Warren County Sheriff’s Department; he also works as a night cadet life supervisor at Randolph-Macon Academy. Long survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer himself and has been cancer-free since March of 1985. He became engaged in Relay for Life years later, and when he did so, he worked on it with all his heart. His gentle, personable nature and low-key manner of asking for support have created a steady group of supporters that grows each year. In fact, he has been the top fundraiser in the Front Royal/Warren County Relay for Life for 11 out of the last 12 years. Two years ago, he was invited to the Governor’s Mansion for a luncheon with then-governor Bob McDonnell, in honor of the large amount of funds he had raised over the years.