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Relay for Life brings cancer fight to Lawrence County



ROME TOWNSHIP — Symmes Valley students and staff donned orange T-shirts Friday afternoon and decorated a large tent on the Fairland High School track field with ghosts and goblins and a large cauldron. While their nod to the spooky was perhaps more funny than frightening, the reason behind its existence was far scarier than any ghost or goblin: Cancer.

That school and numerous other groups, schools and churches gathered in Rome Township Friday for the 10th annual Lawrence County Relay for Life.

“This is awesome,” relay co-chair Melanie Kerstetter said as she surveyed the volunteers who had set up camp for the weekend at the track field. “Last year we raised $105,000.”

The teams brought cornhole games, items for a silent auction, food and lots of activities that were meant to raise money for cancer research.

One team, the Ridgerunners, made its 10th appearance in the relay.

“We were here the first year and we’ve been here ever since,” Ridgerunner member Jackie Floyd said. “In the past two years we’ve raised over $115,000, just our group.”

Like many who participated, cancer is not just a disease, its something very personal. Floyd’s mother-in-law, Mary Floyd, is a cancer survivor.

Not far away, Lori Keyser, of Kenova, W.Va., relaxed for a moment before opening ceremonies. A member of the team Steps For Life, Keyer has taken part in relays in Ohio and West Virginia, along with her sister, Angie Midkiff of Burlington, whose husband, Darrell, died from cancer.

In fact, most, if not all, teams have begun as a result of a very personal brush with cancer.

“There so much of it in our district,” Symmes Valley teacher Becky Bowling said. “We have eight teachers in the elementary with cancer. We have students who have cancer.”

Symmes Valley teacher Lisa Bryant said she lost her dad, Jack Bryant, to bladder cancer.

In the opening ceremonies, Kerstetter remarked that, “cancer is such an ugly word.”

Carolyn Waggoner, who this year is an honorary co-chair person, said the theme is “Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back.” As for the relay, Waggoner called it an “all out war on cancer. This is to raise money,” she said, “so that one day we will discover a cure for every kind of cancer.”