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Relay for Life raises $28,700 for cancer research and survivor care

With only a handful of volunteers for this year’s Relay for Life, event organizers managed to surpass their fundraising goals and create a fun-filled event — in spite of blazing hot temperatures and wildly windy conditions.

“Last year there was a huge storm,” said volunteer Diane Ogbourne. “The breeze is making it bearable.”

The determined attitude was evident in every member of every team on the track.

“It could have been worse,” said Relay for Life Committee Member Brian Wilcox. “There could have been no wind at all!”

Rallied on for the fourth year in a row by Event Chair Karen Irwin, Saturday’s relay more than met its goals.

“We don’t have an exact total, but it is approximately $28,700 at this point. Our goal was $20,000, so we are thrilled,” said Irwen.

In addition to sponsors, money was raised through a silent auction and concession stand held during the event. The committee kept participants interested by scheduling themed laps and providing games and other activities, particularly for the kids who attended.

Relay teams were created in support of cancer survivors or by businesses, like Team Schell who showed up to support Michelle Wessel.

“This is my fourth year,” said Wessel. “We work with [Karen] at Mosaic. I think she has some neat ideas and does a great job of getting everyone together.”

When Wessel started coming to Relay for Life, it was to honor her mother, Margaret Delpierre, who lost her battle with lung cancer several years ago. Two years ago, Wessel faced her own diagnosis. She was a speaker last year.

This year, survivor Lynsey Manternach opened the ceremonies while talking about the tremendous impact head and neck cancer had on her life and her family. Even now that she’s been cancer free for two years, the effects still make their mark.

“The side effects of treatments were like a dark cloud over me,” said Manternach, who credits everyday superheroes — liker her husband Zach, and several other friends and family members — with keeping their family together through the worst of it.

The American Cancer Society also made a huge difference. With the help of the Hope Lodge, Manternach was able to save thousands of dollars while having a safe, comfortable place to stay during treatments.

Roughly 130 people participated in Relay for Life 2017, including those currently struggling with treatments and those who’ve won the battle. Survivors took the first lap around the track, and then were joined by their support systems, who walked for hours until the closing ceremonies after dark.

While the event was a success, there’s still plenty of work to do according to Irwen. Passionately, persistently dedicated to supporting survivors and continued research, her goal is simple: to create a world where cancer no longer exists.

From 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 22, Bark for Life will be held on the square. Similar to Relay for Life, the event raises money for cancer survivors and research, all with the help of Man’s Best Friend.

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