Relay for Life marks '25 Years of Hope'

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com
Bev Kristine, right, will speak at the Greencastle Relay for Life luminaria ceremony on Friday evening, May 17. She is shown with Helen Keckler, her friend, former co-worker and captain of the team No Place Like Hope.

There will be a birthday theme as the Greencastle Relay for Life celebrates "25 Years of Hope" Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, on the Greencastle-Antrim School District's Kaley Field. The underlying theme of every Relay is "Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back."

The American Cancer Society fundraiser begins at 4 p.m. Friday. The opening ceremony at 6 p.m. will feature oncologist Dr. Kevin Lorentsen as the speaker.

Bev Kristine of Mont Alto, a cancer survivor who has been involved in the Greencastle Relay for Life since it started, will speak at the 9 p.m. luminaria ceremony. Gary Patterson playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes will add to the always-moving program this year.

The Relay will continue throughout the night and into Saturday, with periodic activities, many with a birthday twist such as birthday trivia, birthday dance lap, magic show, pinata lap for kids and cake walk lap.

Regular features include the Russ Clever patriotic lap, periodic paparazzi laps with walkers taking selfies to post on social media and the sunrise lap with bedhead and slippers. New events include yoga and a performance by Clarissa's School of Performing Arts on Saturday.

Men in their best ladies' get-ups with purses will collect money in an effort to be named Miss Relay at 11 a.m., followed by closing ceremonies at 11:50 a.m., including team awards and recognitions and the final lap.

 'Anyone you know' 

Top-notch committees are on the ball and final details of the Relay are coming together, according to Kim Muller, a breast cancer survivor who co-chairs the Relay with Megan Barkdoll.

Good weather would make a great Relay for Life birthday present since last year the weather was so bad it had to moved indoors to Greencastle-Antrim High School.

Thirty-six teams are lined up to take to the track, but people can still register online or stop by and join the Relay at anytime.

"Most of us know someone we want to walk in honor or memory of," said Barkdoll. She noted the Relay for Life is not just for people from Greencastle. It's a community walk with teams from Waynesboro, Mercersburg, Hagerstown, Chambersburg and Fulton County, too.

She quoted former Chair Steve Biesecker of Waynesboro, saying bring family, friends, caregivers, neighbors ... "anyone you know."

A special call has gone out for all cancer survivors to attend the opening ceremony, where they and their caregivers will be recognized then honored at a reception.

This year's Relay goal is $170,000 and more than $58,000 had been raised as of May 1. Since the first year, the Greencastle Relay For Life has raised over $3 million in the fight against cancer.

Luminaria speaker 

Kristine was chosen as the luminaria speaker because of her long-time involvement in a variety of roles. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation over a period of approximately seven months, followed by 10 years of followup.  

In an email, she described the evolution of the Relay:

"The first Greencastle Relay was held in May of 1995. The American Cancer Society approached the chamber of commerce in Greencastle about forming teams. My co-worker's husband was a member of the chamber so she brought the info to our management team at Regency Thermographers (now Navitor) in Waynesboro and said, 'We have to do this!' My co-workers, many who had loved ones touched by cancer and many who were so supportive of me throughout my treatments were quick to say yes to being on the team and I thought it would be a great way to actively respond to what was such a life-changing diagnosis. A few of us joined the planning committee after that first year and eventually we had nine teams just from Regency. Many of those original team members have branched out to form family and friend teams so the original Regency participants are spread out far and wide."

Kristine co-chaired the Relay several years, has been on the luminaria committee and currently help with publicity.

"I also had the opportunity to represent Franklin County in Washington, D.C., two times as a part of the outreach arm of the American Cancer Society called ACS CAN (Cancer Action Network)," she wrote. "Volunteer 'Community Ambassadors' from all 50 states and Puerto Rico gathered in D.C. to meet with our elected officials to ask for their support of cancer research funding.

"In 2011, Greencastle was chosen as a site for an important cancer prevention study being conducted by the ACS called CPS - 3," she continued. "I was asked to be the coordinator, which gave me the chance to go out into the community to ask people who had never been diagnosed with cancer to join this study. Our goal of 192 enrollees was met (by Relayers and community members) and the study will continue to follow them for years to come, gathering important information on ways that cancer can be fought/prevented/dealt with.

"I think the reason I've stayed with the Relay and the American Cancer Society is that I've seen how meaningful it can be to have a place to gather where everyone gets it. Relay allows people to celebrate, to mourn and to feel like they are doing something in the fight against cancer," Kristine wrote. "It's full of lots of smiles, laughter and tears. I've also seen the work that the ACS does in research and assisting people. When you are diagnosed with cancer, having a place to start gathering information and support is so important and the American Cancer Society provides that. Knowing that research is ongoing and that there is hope for new treatments is comforting and uplifting."

Asked about her memories from over the years, she replied, "There have been so many great 'moments' but the best memories always center around a hug, a smile, a shared cry. I try to take time each year to just stand back and look around. I'm always struck by how many people volunteer their time and energy to make Relay an event worth attending. They really make it a special place to be. One of the coolest things is seeing the 'Relay babies' grow up and continue to be a part of the event. We have current leadership team members who started out Relaying in strollers."

Kristine's talk does not have a title, but if she had to give it one, she would choose "Our Relay Community - 25 years of Hope."

"My message is about the cancer journey and how it impacts each of us and how the choices we make can make a difference," Kristine concluded.


For more information or to register, go to: