Greencastle Relay for Life exceeds goal

PAT FRIDGEN
The family of Dale Yoder lit two luminaries in his memory at Relay for Life. His brother Larry Yoder, his wife Sharon Yoder and his daughter Kristi Yoder, 17, were among the hundreds of people who participated in the solemn ceremony.

The 17th annual Greencastle Relay For Life exceeded it goal of raising $209,000 for the American Cancer Society. Organizers said $211,268 was collected by 66 teams, 1,000 participants, and corporate sponsorships in the 24-hour walk held May 13 and 14.

The event began under cloudy skies and a wet forecast, with rain now almost expected at each Relay, based on past experience. The walkers came prepared, and the people who camped in tents or RVs couldn't have been surprised by any precipitation. Mist enveloped the event off and on, but did not dampen the spirit of the participants. Everyone was motivated to remember loved ones, honor survivors and raise money for research to someday end cancer. "Dare to Dream' was the  focus, to envision a cancer-free future.

Relay co-chair Kayla Burcker grilled burgers with her husband Brandon Dunkle, and visited with Matt Talhelm, Charlottesville, Va., while watching the crowd circle the track Friday evening.

"I don't care if it dumps buckets, as long as it's after 10 p.m." she said. By that time the opening ceremonies would be winding down.

She got her wish. The rain, a downpour, held off for another 12 hours.

Several members of the team Just Dreaming 4 a Cure traversed the Kaley Field track many times over the two days. Jennifer Rogers was a first-timer, joining on behalf of friends and a grandmother who had had cancer. Paul and April Knoll, and their son Isaac, 9, walked as a family. They estimated the team, formed in the past two weeks, had raised about $750. Also new to the cause, they brought a tent.

"It was a long night," said April on Saturday. She thought she slept about two hours.

Allen and DeAndra Reese and neighbor Tammy Kline supported Relay because of close family members who were battling or had succumbed to the disease. Allen was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2006.

"He's our miracle man," said DeAndra. "We were told to go home and get our affairs in order. He's still fighting it."

Fred and Courtney Patterson were part of the Hurley Auction team. They recently moved to the area from Utah, and had lost family members to cancer. They intended to walk for several hours.

Chris Patterson and Wynter Barresi pushed their son Rylee, 2, in a stroller with the team Penny's Gang, formed in memory of Penny Patterson. The young couple remembered three close family members who had died, and one who was a cancer survivor.

Waynesboro Church of the Brethren team captain Bonnie Hoffman walked because her husband died of pancreatic cancer 15 years ago. Kim Miles lost an uncle.

"Everyone is here for a like cause," said Hoffman. "We all feel connected. There's not a person anywhere not affected by cancer."

From a vantage point on the field, Dorothy Kuhn watched from a rocking chair in the survivor's tent. She had been cancer-free for 17 years.

"It's great to be able to take part from here," she commented. "I can't walk but my heart's out there."

Gloria Miller was nearby. Because family members had been diagnosed with cancers, she frequently underwent preventive screenings.

Special events

Coordinator Bev Kristine said 190 people registered for the Cancer Prevention Study - 3. They gave up four vials of blood, were measured at the waist, and filled out a preliminary questionnaire. For the next 30 years they will receive periodic surveys on lifestyle and health.

"The most important thing is that the people who enrolled complete the surveys," Kristine emphasized. The American Cancer Society initiative will follow 500,000 adults in the United States and Puerto Rico to learn about genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.

The high school track was illuminated with 1,000 candles Friday night. As the wicks flickered, the names of those honored or remembered were announced to the reverent crowd during the Luminary Ceremony. It was a difficult time for many.

"I lost my brother in December," said Larry Yoder. "I wasn't going to do this, but you have to."

He and his sister-in-law Sharon, and nieces Kristi and Victoria lit two candles in memory of Dale Yoder, who died at age 52.

Candles on the visitor bleachers were also ignited. They spelled out the word HOPE.