Relay shaping up for Friday

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

$50,000 already raised for cancer research

CHESAPEAKE — There are only a few more days before Melanie Kerstetter can put her to-do lists away.

Then it will be showtime for this year’s Relay for Life, the community slumber party whose goal is to raise money for cancer research. This is the second year for Kerstetter to coordinate the Lawrence County event that will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Chesapeake schools’ football field.

“I just can’t wait,” Kerstetter said. “I am so excited. It is a lot of work, but when it comes together it is a feeling like no other. It is just awesome. People are all there for one reason, to fight the fight.”

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Although money is raised throughout the night of the Relay, teams start months in advance. So far, $50,000 has been raised, including a separate Relay the Symmes Valley school district conducted last week.

“It is going great,” Kerstetter said. “At this point Symmes Valley had their Relay and brought in over $23,000. And our banker has $27,000 and that doesn’t include what is online.”

This year there are 19 teams committed to bringing in funds for the cause and spending the night at the Relay. Part of the concept is that someone from each team is always on the track walking to symbolize the reality that cancer never sleeps, hitting someone at any time of the day or night.

“We have tons of activities, tons of food and lots of prizes,” Kerstetter said.

Bands that will play through the night will be 4 Mile, Martyford Experience, a Christian rock band, and the Singing Kernels.

“There will be games, bingo, dodge ball, volleyball. All kinds of crazy stuff,” she said. “Like Crush cancer chug, who can chug the most cans of grape Crush. There will be Zumba at midnight.”

And on Saturday morning will be the inaugural Mr. and Miss Relay Pageant for children 1 through 6. Contestants can register at 9 a.m. Saturday and the pageant will start at 10 a.m. Children will be judged on smile, personality and dress.

Right now the top three teams are the Proctorville Woman’s Club’s Colorful Cuties at $1,827; the Friends for Life at $1,056.36; and Faithful Fighters at $725.

“We have done really well,” said Debbie Filkins of the Faithful Fighters team, whose most visual fundraiser has been the pink flamingoes that have perched on lawns throughout the county.

“It is a little bit overwhelming, but it is very worthwhile and rewarding,” Filkins said. “To get to see the survivors appreciate what we have done. We are all there for that look on the survivors’ face.”

Supporting the Relay has been a project the Proctorville Woman’s Club has been involved with for almost a decade.

“We have truly enjoyed all the work we have done,” Pam Legg, club president, said. “Each year we try to outdo ourselves. The whole club participates. We have rummage sales and we will sell spaghetti dinners that night. It is very important to us. We have so many cancer survivors in our club. We all take it to heart.”

The Relay begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the survivors’ dinner open to all survivors and their guests at the Chesapeake Middle School. Reservations can be made by calling (740) 532-1603. Dr. Gerard Oakley, professor and director of gynecologic oncology at Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be the keynote speaker.

Then the Relay will begin with the survivors’ walk, the first walk on the track.