Relay for Life takes aim at cancer again in Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN
Teams registered Jan. 16 for the Greencastle Relay for Life, to be held May 18 and 19. Heading teams are, from left: Karen Starr and Melissa Starr for Jack Gaughen Realtors for Relay; and Kiersten Albert for Just Dreaming 4 a Cure. Teams may continue to register by calling the American Cancer Society office in Chambersburg at 264-6266.

The fundraising goal for Greencastle Relay for Life is bigger than ever, but the hope for success is just as strong. Organizers of the American Cancer Society annual event set the financial goal at $221,000 and are optimistic it can be met. Last year teams from across Franklin County exceeded the target of $209,000 by bringing in an additional $7,000.

Relay chairman Karen Showalter and co-chair Kayla Burcker met with 60 team leaders Monday evening at First United Methodist Church in Greencastle to spell out guidelines for participating in the May 18-19 event, to be held at Greencastle-Antrim High School Kaley Field. They are shooting for 66 teams and $10,000 in corporate sponsorships.

"We have the potential to blow that out of the water," said Burcker, based on early feedback from companies.

Hope

"Show Us Your Hope" is the 2012 theme. Committee member Bev Kristine quoted Martin Luther King, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." The fight against cancer mattered because the disease affected so many people, directly or indirectly.

She stated that hope was a key point of each Relay for Life, and important to everyone on a cancer journey.

Shendelle Clapper, also on the committee, recognized survivors, always honored at the relay.

"After diagnosis, they continue to find a way to live, choosing to love family and friends, to let others into their lives. And after treatment, normal is different. Our hats off to them. They remind us how to live."

With Relay proceeds directed to research, education, advocacy and service, Connie Woodruff urged people to consider getting involved on the political side, even if it was not something they normally do. As Health Initiative Representative from the Chambersburg ACS office, she believed a strong way to make a difference was to keep government funding of research, and that would happen if elected officials heard from constituents. ACS Cancer Action Network sought to influence policy in a non-partisan way.

"The more people that join, the more legislators will listen. It's the biggest way we can fight back against this disease," she said.

People could sign up through her or online at www.acscan.org  

Team Terry

Greencastle resident Wanda Kerschner lost her husband Terry to ALS Leukemia on Nov. 2. After his diagnosis on July 28, 2010, their daughter Heather declared they would form a team for him. Fifty people joined and raised the most money, with Heather the top individual among all relay participants. Kershner missed the event last spring, since she was at Hershey Medical Center with her husband. They conducted their own mini-relay in the hospital and raised $125.

Kershner was proud of Terry's fight, and he surpassed doctors' expectations on many counts. After he suffered a stroke, he walked again. He attended his son Brad's wedding to Kayla Pond on Oct. 9, 2011. And he came home for one day, one last time.

"It was Oct. 27 and 100 people came to see him. They were lined out the door," said Kershner. "He knew every one."    

He was a fighter, and never afraid, she told the team leaders. "He said, 'We're going to get through this.' We took it one day at a time. He told me, 'You have to do Relay for Life.'"

And Team Terry will be on the track in May.          

A few changes

Because Kaley Field has new artificial turf and a new track surface, Showalter assured everyone some details would be different, but with minimal impact. The Luminary Ceremony would go on, using glow sticks instead of candles. Strollers and wagons would likely have to be rolled on a special mat. And walkers would be advised not to wear high heels. That brought chuckles, but school personnel had noted fans actually attended football games in such footwear. Camping would still be allowed in the same area as in the past, and hopefully grass would have taken root after last year's construction.      

— By PAT FRIDGEN,

                           Echo Pilot                                                                                                                                                                                

Wanda Kershner told Relay for Life team captains how much the American Cancer Society fundraising event meant to her. Team Terry participated in 2011 in honor of her husband, and will walk this year in his memory.