‘Take Me Out to the Relay!’ will raise money to fight cancer

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The bases were loaded at the 2023 Relay For Life kickoff meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18, in Greencastle.

The American Cancer Society fundraiser will be held from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 19, on the Greencastle-Antrim School District’s Kaley Field.

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The theme is “Take Me Out to the Relay!”

Why is the name now Relay For Life of Franklin and Fulton Counties?

Known as the Greencastle Relay For Life since the first walkers stepped off in 1995, the 2023 event debuts the new name Relay For Life of Franklin and Fulton Counties.

Tri-chairs, from left, Sue Mummert, June Hann and Beth Goetz are leading the American Cancer Society’s 2023 Relay For Life of Franklin and Fulton Counties scheduled for Friday, May 19, at the Greencastle-Antrim School Distict’s Kaley Field.

The name change makes sense, according to June Hann, who chairs the Relay with Beth Goetz and Sue Mummert.

Folks from Waynesboro have always been drawn to the Greencastle event. The Chambersburg Relay For Life, which started in 2004, merged with Greencastle this year. People from Fulton County started coming over the mountain after their Relay For Life folded about five years ago. And the one-time Mercersburg Relay was considered a feeder event for Greencastle.

It also makes sense businesswise, Hann said, explaining businesses in Chambersburg are more likely to support a countywide fundraiser than one with just Greencastle in the name.

Cheryl Stinson thinks the same is true of Fulton County businesses, and she hopes the new name will draw more participants from her county, too.

Cheryl Stinson of Fulton County Relayers attended the kickoff meeting for the 2023 Relay For Life of Franklin and Fulton Counties.

A nearly 25-year breast cancer survivor, Stinson chaired the Fulton County Relay For Life for three years and, since it ended, has been participating in Greencastle with the Fulton County Relayers team.

She lost her sister, Donna Sharon, to breast cancer 10 years ago. Her younger sister, Melanie Martin of Emmaus, Pa., and sister-in-law, Patricia Eschbach of Harleysville, Pa., were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. Her brother, Tim Eschbach of Pennsburg, Pa., is battling lymphoma.

“That’s the reason … to find the cure,” Stinson said. “You’ve got to fund the research to stop it.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Mummert shared key facts about disease, which has surpassed lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world.

“A breast cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Several in this room can attest to that fact,” said Mummert, a 12-1/2-year survivor.

The American Cancer Society has invested millions in breast cancer research and the death rate dropped 42% from 1989 to 2019.

However, Mummert added, Black women are 41% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women; locally more younger women, for whom screening is not routine, are being diagnosed; and more than 43,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2022.

Sue Mummert, tri-chair of the May 19, 2023, Relay For Life of Franklin and Fulton Counties and a breast cancer survivor, brought her custom-made pink Louisville Slugger to the kickoff meeting for the American Cancer Society fundraiser and wants knock the disease "out of the park and out of our lives forever."

Mummert stood at the podium with a pink custom-made Louisville Slugger, a gift from her husband, Dave, recognizing “Breast Cancer Warriors,” on her shoulder.

“Let’s take a swing at breast cancer and knock it out of the park and out of our lives forever by supporting the American Cancer Society,” Mummert said.

She also wrote a Relay For Life song based on “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

Take me out to the Relay,Take me out to the track!We’re raising money to beat the beast,And make sure that it never comes back.So, it’s work, work, work raising money,If we don’t reach our goal it’s a shameAnd its one, two, three laps and moreAt our Relay!

“I think we have a fun theme to work with this year,” Hann said. Four tables were set up like a baseball diamond with different sets of information at each base, and there were ballpark refreshments including hot dogs and popcorn.

People will be able to add die cut baseball mitts, balls and helmets to the "Take me out to the Relay" banner indicating who they ‘go to bat for’ at the Relay For Life of Franklin and Fulton Counties on May 19, 2023.

A large banner saying “Take me out to the Relay” and “I go to bat for …” was displayed. Those at the meeting had a chance to write the names of who they go to bat for on die cut baseballs, mitts and helmets to attach to the banner. People will be able to do this at the Relay, too.

The Relay is still in the planning stages, but “all the things that are Relay will be there,” Hann said, citing the survivors lap and recognition luncheon and luminaria ceremony.

What are the numbers behind the American Cancer Society fundraiser?

Like the rest of the world, the Relay For Life has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-pandemic in 2019, the Greencastle Relay ran from 4 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday. With 38 teams and 366 participants, it raised $145,216.

There was no Relay on the track for the next two years. However, there was a luminaria ceremony in 2020 and a Relay For Life parade of vehicles and luminaria ceremony in 2021. Fundraising continued and 30 teams raised $72,068 in 2020 and 27 teams raised $53,003 in 2021.

Despite scorching temperatures, cancer survivors and their families and friends turned out for 2022 Relay For Life in Greencastle.

Twenty-nine teams were "Back on the Track — Racing for a Cure" from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 21, 2022. Despite scorching temperatures, 163 participants circled the track and exceeded the $85,000 goal by raising $101,244.

The target for 2023 is 35 teams, 225 participants, 50 survivors and $90,000.

How you can get involved in the Relay For Life

The 2023 website, www.relayforlife.org/pafranklinfulton, is live with information on registering to participate, purchasing luminarias and becoming a sponsor.

Fundraisers are promoted on the site, including Dine to Donate at Texas Roadhouse from 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16, and a paint party Nov. 13.

Additional planning meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 21 and April 18, at the Rescue Hose Co., 842 S. Washington St., Greencastle.

Information also is available from the tri-chairs: June Hann, junohann@comcast.net; Beth Goetz, bethgoetz@gmail.com; and Sue Mummert, smummert.pw@gmail.com

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