In-person Relay For Life to benefit American Cancer Society returns to Greencastle

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The new leaders of the Greencastle Relay For Life are ready to be "Back on the track — racing for the Cure!"

That's the theme of the 2022 American Cancer Society fundraiser that's set to return to the Greencastle-Antrim School District's Kaley Field after two years of in-person COVID-19 limitations.

Beth Goetz, left, and June Hann are co-chairs of the 2022 Greencastle Relay For Life. Planned on May 21, the theme is 'Back on the track — racing for the Cure!'

June Hann and Beth Goetz, 2022 co-chairs, are looking forward to seeing Relay veterans as well as new teams, participants and survivors in the stadium and on the track from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. The event traditionally draws hundreds of people from across Franklin County, as well as part of Fulton County.

The goal, Hann said, is to find a cure for cancer so someday there won't have to be a Relay.

In the lead

"I'm going to be the old wheel in the cog and she's going to be the Energizer Bunny," Hann said. "I have the interest, but not the energy to be all over the track. I'm 70."

Hann and Goetz are taking the reins from Megan Barkdoll. Barkdoll first co-chaired the Relay in 2018 with her friend and fellow Greencastle-Antrim Middle School wellness teacher Kim Muller, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2019.

Hann, a 10-year breast cancer survivor, can't pinpoint exactly when she got involved in helping to organize the Relay.

"I just showed up at a leadership meeting. I just decided I was going to show up, I kept showing up and I learned," said Hann, whose life has been touched by cancer from many directions.

She was 10 when her father was diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer.

"You didn't discuss it back then. I didn't know what was going on until many years later," Hann recalled.

Steve Biesecker, a former chairman, talks with June Hann, a new co-chair, at the leadership team kick-off for the 2022 Greencastle Relay For Life.

She was the caregiver for her husband, Norm Hann Sr., who had myelodysplastic syndrome, which turned into leukemia. He died Feb. 3, 2017.

"It's like yesterday and 20 years ago at the same time," Hann said. "It's so fresh. It doesn't go away, but you keep going."

Many relatives have had cancer, including a nephew lost at 29 to melanoma, brothers with colon cancer and another nephew with lung cancer. That's why the family's Nutty's Buddies Relay For Life team uses all the colors symbolizing different forms of cancer on its Relay materials.

Hann especially wants to see lots of people circling the track for the survivors lap.

Goetz started a team for her boyfriend's father, Jeff Williams. Williams had throat cancer and two of his siblings also had cancer.

"He asked me if I knew about the Relay," Goetz recalled. "I said, 'Not much.' It was a cool thing to do in high school to get out of the house."

Teams Williams was only involved in the survivors lap in 2018 and had a campsite at the Relay in 2019.

"I have good organization skills," Goetz said. "I'm a volunteer. I like to be involved, not just a participant."

Cancer survivors took to the track for the survivors lap at the Greencastle Relay For Life in 2019, the last time the American Cancer Society fundraiser was held in-person.

June Hann's daughter, Jennifer Hann, joined the Relay leadership team when her mom became co-chair, but she's been involved since the fundraiser's inception, either as a first responder or on a team.

"I find it hard to explain why it means so much ... you're doing something and you're not alone," she said.

Fundraising continues

The Greencastle Relay For Life traditionally raises in the $170,000 range, but the goal for 2022 has not been finalized.

Teams continued fundraising during the pandemic even through the traditional format was not possible.

In 2020, the Relay was cancelled, but 30 teams registered and 175 participants raised $71,000. The only in-person event was a spur-of-the-moment luminaria display in August.

Adele 'Cookie' Lehman, her daughter, Sherri Field, and 'countless others lost' were remembered by the Greencastle Relay For Life teams Cookie's Crew and Sherri's Army in the 2021 parade that replaced the event on Kaley Field due to COVID-19.

A luminaria display also was part of the 2021 Relay, which took the form of a parade of decorated vehicles through downtown Greencastle with the theme "Don't Let Cancer Dull Your Sparkle" in Muller's honor. She was known for the message “Never let anyone or anything dull your sparkle."

Relay For Life co-chair Kim Muller, who lost her battle with breast cancer in August 2019, was among those remembered and honored in the display of luminarias in 2021.

In total, 27 teams and 93 participants registered in 2021 and raised $58,519.15.

Details

The leadership team held a kick-off in October and will begin meeting regularly after the first of the year.

A Relay For Life open house will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, in the meeting room at the Rescue Hose Co. on South Washington Street.

Additional information is available at Relay For Life/Greencastle

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at shardy@gannett.com