EATON — Preble County’s 21st Relay for Life event raised over $21,000, according to organizers.
The cancer awareness walk was held Saturday, June 10. The event took place from 3 p.m. to midnight at the Preble County Fairgrounds and was attended by many volunteers and cancer activists, hoping to raise some money for the disease which affects so many.
Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries. Volunteers give their time and effort because they believe it is time to take action against cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, one in three women and one in two men in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. They hold the Relay because cancer touches so many lives. By joining a Relay for Life event, you’re helping the American Cancer Society fund groundbreaking research, crucial patient care programs, and education and prevention information. Relay for Life saves lives.
Relay for Life is a team fundraising event where team members take turns walking around a track or designated path. Each event is six to 24 hours in length and every team is asked to have a member on the track at all times, in order to signify that caner never sleeps. Cancer patients don’t stop because they’re tired, so the Relay for Life attempts to emulate that.
Many Relay for Life events continue through the night, but for this year, organizers wrapped it up at midnight. The teams raise money throughout the event by collecting donations for food, goods, games, and activities. This money will count towards their overall fundraising goal.
“I participate in Relay for Life to honor my family members and friends who have died or are fighting cancer,” Relay for Life team leader Tiana White said. “I lost my dad, step-dad, and aunt to cancer. I have had many close friends that were affected by the disease as well.”
White was actually part of the original group which brought the Relay for Life to Preble County. She has been participating for 22 years. “Several volunteers from Preble County first went and participated in another Relay to see what it was like,” she said. “After our first year of participating, we decided that Preble County could host its own Relay and went to work the next year to do just that. We have been hosting our own Relay For Life for the past 20 years. This year is Preble County’s 21st Relay For Life.”
“I like that Relay for Life celebrates survivors, but also helps us remember those that we have lost. It is also a fun way to raise money to continue to fight this terrible disease through research,” White added. “Relay For Life provides survivors with an outlet to meet other survivors and gives them a chance to celebrate the fact that they are still having more birthdays. Cancer affects so many of our Preble County residents, that I think it is important to feel a part of something bigger and try to become part of the solution.”
White’s team tried to have somebody walking the track at all times. Before the event, her team hoped to raise $3,000.
According to Preble County Event Organizer Darian Rader, Relay for Life serves multiple purposes. “While the event does raise money for the American Cancer Society, it is also a great opportunity for members of our community to come together to support each other,” Rader said. “The event celebrates survivors, caregivers, family, and friends while also allowing us to remember and honor those that have passed away. That’s what makes this event so important. We can show support for our loved ones through words and actions.”
According to longtime Relay for Life participant and Team Julie leader Vickey Mikesell, Neaton Auto Parts Manufacturing, Inc. started their team five years ago in honor of one of their co-workers who had cancer, not knowing they would soon lose her to the disease.
“I’ve been walking with Relay for Life for many years now,” Mikesell said. “This year there are 15 teams, we’re starting from 3 p.m. to midnight, which is new. Before, up to the last two years, we stayed all night. It gets a lot. I slept and stayed, but they thought we would get more of a crowd.
“Two years ago in 2015 my mom was diagnosed. My mom was diagnosed 18 months before that with lung cancer at age 82. They gave her five to six months to live, but she lived 18 months. Then four months later, my sister had been fighting cancer for 20 years, it took her the first of September the same year. I was devastated, she was younger than me and it took her with ovarian cancer.
“That amped me up to get involved with the team at Neaton. We have a lot of team members, a lot of good people who work with me. Everybody is very supportive. I’m not sure where our final funds will be, but we raise money and donate all of it to the American Cancer Society. I enjoy trying to beat the cause. I want to see it happen in my lifetime. I don’t know if I will ever see it.”
“Neaton’s real good,” Mikesell said. “We have raffle, and meals, and doughnut days. Right now we have a Brukbaker Grain here in town is our Team Sponsor, they really help us. Right now they have a grill and a TV we are raffling right now.”
According to Rader, there were 15 teams registered this year, and while the official amount raised is not yet available, Rader said it was over $21,000. She added, “This year was absolutely a success. It’s always great to see people out having a good time and supporting each other. We had several teams and a lot of participation throughout the event. We also had a lot of support from businesses and organizations in the community, which contributed a lot to our success.”
“We met our goals both in terms of how many teams we hoped to have and how much money we hoped to raise,” Rader said. “We hope to do even better next year. Attendance at our meetings throughout the year is something that we hope will increase because so much of the planning for the event starts early on. We are always open to suggestions. Our meetings are the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.”
For more information, Rader asks those interested to contact her at 937-733-9534.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH