EATON — Preble County’s Relay for Life was held from Friday, May 18 through Saturday, May 19 and raised, at the event itself, approximately $8,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Funds were raised by teams prior to the event, but those amounts were not yet tallied at press time.
Relay For Life is one of the signature events of the American Cancer Society. It is a team event, where each team is encouraged to have someone walking for the length of the event. It was designed to represent a day in the life of a cancer survivor. Teams walk all night because cancer doesn’t sleep.
Most of the funds, 75 percent, go toward cancer research, patient support, prevention, information and education, and detection and treatment.
Preble County has had a local Relay for Life for 22 years now.
Tiana White, who is one of the organizers of the event, explained, “We feel that it is important to celebrate local survivors, let people know what services the American Cancer Society offers, and help to raise the needed funds to support these programs.”
Turnout this year was down, partially due to the rainy weather. There were nine teams who participated and 30 survivors at the Survivor Reception. Survivors and caregivers were treated to a meal of hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, pretzels, and cupcakes.
Sponsors for the event included: Parker, Reid Health, Honda of American Mfg., and Mote & Associates. Also, Sherry Hood donated the cupcakes for the survivor reception.
Martell Walls was the speaker for the event and the inspiration behind “Team Momma.”
She said, “I started to be involved in Relay for Life in 2010. My daughter was in 4-H and they volunteered. I’ve always donated, my mom passed away in 1987 so I’ve always tried to donate to cancer research whenever I could. The last couple years I’ve been walking for ‘Team Julie.’ This is the first year I’ve had my own team. I was diagnosed in 2016 with stage four breast cancer, so we’ve all been coming down here. Last year I came here, Miami County, and Darke County. I don’t know if I will go to the other counties, because this year I am on a chemo, but I would love to go,” she said. “I think Relay is important because this is a community and it gives survivors strength and helps them realize that they are not alone. When I first got diagnosed, the first doctor I saw told me that I wouldn’t live to see 2018. My second looked at my foot and said that he didn’t see an expiration date. Don’t always believe the first person that you see, get a second opinion.”
Walls’ cancer has grown to her lymph nodes and her lungs. She said, her family is taking it day-by-day and treatment-by-treatment. She added, “All I have to say is, don’t give up. Even if you have the worst cancer. There is always hope and have faith.”
Earla Donaldson was walking both as a survivor and in remembrance of her husband Thomas Donaldson, who passed away in January. She was a member of the team “Merry Mary Walkers.”
“I had breast cancer and I’ve done the survival walk since 2002. This year, we’re doing it in memory of my husband, who died on Jan. 1 of this year. He had leukemia and he only had it for four months, but in memory of him we are doing this. We have had many friends who have had cancer. We are walking for all the people we’ve lost and who have had cancer,” Donaldson said.
“We really enjoy getting together with other people who have had cancer. I think it is important that people realize how many people are affected by cancer. If you don’t know somebody today, you will know somebody in a few weeks. It is important to get a word out that we need people who are willing to research and find a cure for cancer. That is my hope, in my lifetime. I am sure I will have cancer again and I really want a cure.
“If you know someone with cancer, be very supportive, because they need that and love. That is what I say. You really need to love that person, care for them, and let them know you’ll be there any time.”
The annual wrap-up meeting for Relay for Life will be held on Tuesday, June 12, at 6 p.m. Location will be announced later.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH