Relay unifies in fight for cure

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

PROCTORVILLE - LLooney Llamas, Crazy Crabs and a host of others joined together for 18 continuous hours - to fight cancer.

The third annual Lawrence County Relay for Life was held at the Fairland High School Stadium on Friday. Thirty-nine teams participated in the relay that began at 6 p.m. Friday with the survivor’s lap and concluded at noon on Saturday with the final lap.

"The weather has helped," said Jackie Hutchison who led the Survivor’s victory lap. "It’s really nice to see all the people from Lawrence County come out for such a great cause."

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A reception for cancer survivors was held at Fairland West Elementary before the start of the relay. Cancer survivors and their families could enjoy the food and visit with others attending the reception.

Survivors were given a

survivor's medallion and T-shirt to wear in the relay.

Survivors of all ages attended the reception, which reminds participants that cancer does not discriminate - it can touch everyone.

After the reception, survivors lined up and began their walk down the hallway towards the track.

Before they exit the building, school custodians and volunteers Sharon Dennison and Gracie Mills were waiting at the end of the hall to hand each survivor a balloon to carry during the victory lap.

"I had a brother at the age of 34 that died of cancer, and a sister and a niece that are survivors," Sharon Dennison said. "I’m just happy to be able to be a part of it."

The opening ceremonies were held and the relay began as cancer survivor Jackie Hutchison led the survivors around the track for their victory lap.

Everyone gathered around the track to cheer on the survivors.

Music was playing and onlookers were clapping as the survivors walked by as their names were read off one by one. Some in attendance were unable to hold back their tears from both the excitement of the moment and the painful memories from the past.

The teams walked around the track with their banners as their names were announced and returned to their tents.

Team members then took turns walking around the track, keeping at least one member on the track at all times. All teams also had on site fund-raisers at each of their tents.

Rock Hill High School freshmen Samantha Mullins and Mindi Daniels were making their way around the track for one of the Rock Hill teams.

Both students joined the team because they have lost a family member to cancer.

"I think it’s a great idea," Mullins said.

Daniels agreed.

"Fighting for a cure is like the coolest," she said.

Participants said they were having a great time, whether they were walking, enjoying some of the great food or just hanging out.

There were several events in which visitors could participate, live entertainment and no shortage of interesting things to see.

"This is the best weather we have ever had," said Missy Gorby, captain of the Wild West Team. Gorby also said it was great for people to come out and get to see some people they only see one time of the year.

Co-Chair Jerry McConnell was very excited about the turnout.

This is the third year for the relay which includes all of Lawrence County, and the relay has grown each year, he said.

"We’re certain to exceed last year’s amount," he said

Ohio University Dean Dan Evans said that it is great to see the county pull together and help find a cure for cancer."

"This far exceeds the expectation," Evans said "I could not be prouder that Ohio University is involved in this."

The relay continued throughout the evening.

A luminaria ceremony was held at 9:30 p.m.

Lighted candles were sold by volunteers and decorated with the names of survivors and those who were lost to cancer. It is a tribute to those who have battled cancer.