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Celebrating Life

CHESAPEAKE — They may have been the new kids on the block, so to speak, but the Order of Eastern Star of Proctorville had already met their goal before they got their tent set up.

Before it turned noon on Saturday, they were expecting to double what they had targeted as one of 20 teams who braved the downpour, not to mention thunder and lightning, to join in a very special fight against cancer —- the annual Relay for Life.

This year the fundraiser for the American Cancer Society was held at the track and football field at Chesapeake High School starting at 5 p.m. Friday with the survivors’ dinner followed by those survivors taking the first lap around the track.

Calling their team the “OES: Stars for Life,” the Proctorville women, joined by their husbands, came into the event with $1,600. That was $600 more than their goal. They expected to end the event with $2,000 to give to the cancer society.

Their enthusiasm was rooted in the reality that each member in some way had been touched by cancer.

“My husband is a cancer survivor,” Brenda Mann, OES worthy matron and co-captain, said.

It was 16 years ago that Jim Mann was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma on his birthday in May.

“He was told he wouldn’t live to Christmas,” his wife said. “It’s very tough. It’s hard to see them sick.”

Mann had body blast chemotherapy and 40 radiation treatments before the disease was conquered.

“He shouldn’t be here,” Brenda Mann said. “He is a walking miracle.”

It was the eighth year for a group of family and friends from Greasy Ridge to join the county’s largest community slumber party as the Ridge Runners got together to raise money for the cause.

“All of us have had family and friends with cancer,” Jeff Floyd said. “It is a great experience. The survivors’ lap seeing people get out and make the laps.”

It wasn’t enough to hold their own Relay back at their school campus. Symmes Valley High School students were out in full force Friday night with their safari theme booth.

The gorilla and zebra perched on the fake hut were full of hot air, but the five foot red tail boa in its glass case was definitely not a balloon. The pet of high school student Garrett Foster, the 2-year-old serpent added that touch of verisimilitude to the African motif.

In the past five years, the students have raised $100,000 for cancer research.

“At Symmes Valley, we think education is important, but we think community service is also important,” Becky Bowling said.

The students come to the countywide relay as well because the faculty wants them to see the bigger picture, Bowling said.

“We want the kids to see the fruition of their work,” Bowling said. “We want them to see there is a survivors’ lap. Symmes Valley kids want them to find a cure in their lifetime.”