EATON — Some 200 walkers and survivors participated in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life in Preble County at the Preble County Fairgrounds on Friday, June 5, in Eaton.
Currently, the teams who participated in the event have raised over $13,000 for the American Cancer Society. Proceeds will go to cancer research, local residents who are battling the disease, and will help to hopefully one day find a cure for the disease.
The event was part of the Relay For Life 30-year anniversary. According to the American Cancer Society, the first Relay for Life started when Dr. Gordy Klatt wanted to raise money for his local American Cancer Society chapter and show support for his patients battling the disease.
Klatt who recently passed away from cancer himself, rose over $27,000 on a May night in 1985 when he walked or ran for 24 straight hours totaling over 83 miles creating Relay for Life in the process.
According to Alice Lajeunesse of the American Cancer Society, walking through the night is symbolic for the journey of a person battling cancer.
The sun going down represents the initial phase of being diagnosed as it feels the “light” is fading away. Walking through the middle of the night represents the darkest part of the journey where cancer patients often feel that defeating the disease is no longer possible and all hope is lost.
However for those who continue to walk through the darkest part of the journey a dawn awaits them that brings new hope and life.
The event featured games and activities for those participating throughout the night but began with an opening ceremony where local cancer survivor Guy Fogel spoke to those in attendance and had a special message for his fellow cancer survivors.
Fogel opened his speech with a few hoots and hollers and a joke in between before speaking directly to his fellow survivors at the event, “To my fellow survivors, I love you, I don’t know most of you, some of you I’ve met, but we share a special light.”
Fogel also thanked the caretakers who hold a special place with the survivors, “Those around you feel helpless, they want to be involved, they care to much, so give them something to do, remove your pride. I didn’t anyone cutting my grass, or making me soup but they love you and want to help. There is another light that shines on us and those are the ones here who are carrying the torch who helped loved ones battle cancer or lost loves one to cancer.”
Fogel ended his speech by telling those in attendance “Tonight is a light. It’s where you let that light shine for those folks that you love and for those who are near and dear for you. And that is why you are here!”
The opening ceremonies conclude with a survivor’s lap where around 50 survivors represented by purple shirts walked a lap to a song titled “Overcomer” by Mandisa before being joined by caretakers who wore white shirts on the next lap.
Perhaps the reason for Relay For Life was best summarized by Suzannah Haag who told the crowd, “We are here to celebrate, remember, and fight back”.