The fifth annual West Jefferson Family Festival was full of life and purpose. More than 10,000 people attended this year’s two-day festival benefitting the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center. The money raised will be used for patients who can’t afford their chemo treatments, transportation, nutrition or other important needs they may have.

The Jefferson Parish Council proclaimed this year’s festival as the Joycelyn Bruce Family Fest in honor of Bruce’s life and her 43 years of service at West Jefferson Medical Center. Bruce lost her battle with cancer on Oct. 5.

The Archbishop Shaw High School Band performed at the start of the first I Pink I Can, I Pink I Can Walk/Run, and the Fisher High School cheerleading squad and dance team cheered, danced and performed.

More than 435 registered walkers and runners participated in the run/walk wearing their pink tutus and their most outrageous pink outfits.

Throughout the festival, patients shared their personal struggles and triumphs with cancer. One was Country Radio Hall of Famer Eddie Edwards.

At the festival, Edwards gave a riveting testimony about when he first discovered he had cancer. He said, “The oncologists came in. I didn’t know what it was. That’s when they told me that tennis did not break my bones, cancer did. That’s when I found out that I had multiple myeloma,” a cancer that affects plasma cells.

“We are so excited for our first annual run/walk to have 435 registered walkers and runners,” said Anette Cheramie, director of West Jeff Fitness Centers. “It was nice to see so many of our community wear pink in support for our run/walk and tutu challenge. Many thanks to all our community who wore pink tutus and helped cheer on our patients, walkers, runners and their loved ones before, during and following the race.”

It was also the first “Battle for da’ Paddle” Jambalaya Cook-Off. Earl Robin, of Team Rice-A-Homie, won first place and bragging rights; Brett Kareokowsky, of Team Crazy Cajuns, took second place and Chris Oliver, of Team Swamp Dog Cooking, came in third.

More than 51 cars and bikes rolled in for the first Cruise Night, and 95 cars and bikes entered the Car and Bike Show.

More than 400 children took part in the Dr. Benny and Micki Goldman Trunk or Treasure, and the Jefferson Parish Public Schools Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program gave out children’s books.

Yetoria Lumpkin DeShazier writes about the people and events in Algiers and the West Bank. Contact her at ydeshazier@gmail.com or call (504) 367-0905.