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Morning Sun
  • Relay offers hope for survivors

  • Hope was defined for cancer survivors as those who are relatively new to Relay For Life walked the opening lap with others who have survived for as many as 33 years.



    Almost 200 people on 23 teams attended the event, in which teams took turns walking through the chilly night as a metaphor for the night that comes as part of a battle with cancer.

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  • Hope was defined for cancer survivors as those who are relatively new to Relay For Life walked the opening lap with others who have survived for as many as 33 years.

    Almost 200 people on 23 teams attended the event, in which teams took turns walking through the chilly night as a metaphor for the night that comes as part of a battle with cancer.

    “That is super exciting,” said Rhonda Dewitt, a community manager with the American Cancer Society. “We are very grateful and very excited to have you all here.”

    Dewitt said she defines survivor as anyone who has survived being diagnosed with cancer.

    “We are here to celebrate with you, your survivorship,” she said. 

    She also noted that everyone present in the stadium is a caregiver to some level and congratulated all present for their part in the fight against cancer.

    She then invited survivors to line up for the opening lap, beginning with those who have survived the longest and continuing to those for whom this is their first Relay as survivors.

    “What I wanted you to see is this is your future birthday journey,” Dewitt told the newest survivors. “This is why we Relay.”

    For survivors and caregivers, the event is emotional and cherished.

    “It means so much,” said Mary Askins, whose granddaughter, Payton Kannarr, is in remission from leukemia. “It’s such a community effort and show of support.”

    Askins said it also is meaningful that the money raised, which was $16,800 and counting at the beginning of the Relay event, will go to help find a cure.

    Event chairwoman Cristy Mitchell said additional funds will be raised throughout the evening by the groups, and a number of activities will be available throughout the overnight hours as it becomes harder to stay awake and continue walking.

    “It’s an all-night event that signals the diagnosis of cancer, the treatment and, in the morning, the remission,” said Mitchell..

    “My dad passed away with cancer, that’s why I relay,” Mitchell said.

    Page 2 of 2 - Teresa Coulter said she has participated in Relay For Life many times, including the past three years as a survivor.

    “It’s a real emotional journey,” she said. “I think it is to be able to relate to all the other survivors.”

    She said there is a powerful bond between the survivors, and that the survivor’s lap is a story of hope.

    Coulter said a cancer diagnosis used to be final, but attending Relay is inspirational as she sees others who have survived decades.

    “Now all it is is hope,” she said.

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