The Osceola square was a busy place Saturday evening. The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of South Central Iowa event took up the courthouse lawn and sidewalks during the six hours the relay took place.
From 4 to 10 p.m., cancer survivors, caregivers, friends and family members of those affected by cancer walked the sidewalk around the courthouse raising money and awareness for cancer research. An estimated 200-225 people were in attendence.
The event was put on by a committee of eight volunteers and headed by cancer survivor Lynsey Manternach.
Manternach became involved with Relay for Life 10 years ago and was diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago. After finishing her treatments, she became more heavily involved with the Amercian Cancer Sociey Relay for Life.
“This is what I need to be doing. I can share this, I can help, I can make a difference somehow,” said Manternach.
The event leadership committee comes together in the fall, around September or October to begin planning fundraising events leading up to the big final event of the year, Relay for Life. This past year, the committee was involved in a Coaches vs. Cancer event at Clarke Community High School and hosted a golf tournament. Planning for the Relay for Life event begins in early spring around February or March. All the events and sponsorships of this year have raised roughly $34,000.
“Every waking minute I have is for planning. There’re so many little details,” said Manternach.
Along with the little details it takes for the event to run smoothly, the event leadership committee must focus on a couple of big things.
It is a non-profit organization, meaning everyone who works to put the event together or who brings their time and talents to the event is a volunteer. There was a volunteer DJ at the event as well as booths and raffles. All workers were donating their time.
The other big challenge for the committee is spreading the word about the event and what Relay for Life really means.
“A lot of people think it’s like a 5K and they need to be really active to be in it. That’s not the case at all,” said Manternach.
Individuals or teams walk as much or as little as they want during the event, and there is time set aside for kids, cancer survivors and caregivers. Anyone can participate.
“We really want people to join the event. Every year we want to get stronger and stronger. ... Every person makes a difference,” said Manternach.
Anyone can also join the event leadership committee.
“Every year we’ll get another new person and it helps with new ideas and things we haven’t thought of,” said Manternach.