Relay readies for 15th year

In 15 weeks, the Auglaize County Fairgrounds midway will host walkers for an 18-hour walk for the 15th annual Relay for Life as teams and individuals celebrate victims and survivors of cancer.

Trying to mirror the stages through which a cancer survivor endures, Relay for Life organizers have chosen the theme, “A Cure for All Seasons.”

“For cancer patients, there are different seasons to the process of being a cancer survivor,” Relay for Life organizer Laura Kelley said. “The fall season, with things turning brown and dormant, can be equated to the diagnosis and then they go through the rough months which equates to the winter season, those cold, lonely moments. As spring arrives, their treatments are starting to take effect and when summer time hits they are a survivor — full of life.

“We are celebrating the fact that everyone who has cancer is in one of those stages and we just want to see them get through all the stages and get another chance at life and living,” she said.

Kelley said she hopes to resurrect the energy of past Relay for Life events. A couple of years ago, changes occurred to the time and place of the event.

The Relay for Life is a month later than when it started in 1997, moving to mid-June from mid-May and moving to the Auglaize County Fairgrounds from Harmon Field. The event takes place June 22 and 23.

“We are changing some traditions and bringing back some of the old events,” Kelley said. “Miss Relay has been missing for two years and it is time to bring the event back.

“The luminaria service will look a little different as well,” she said. “The luminaira will be paper bags that can be decorated by the owner — this will make them more personal.”

The luminaria service returns on the evening of June 22, immediately after the opening ceremonies and the survivor’s lap.

Kelley encourages people and teams to join as they are looking for more teams to sign up. She noted it is never too late to organize a team. They can contact Kelley at 419-738-7615 or at to sign up or they can get additional information at event’s website —

They also can use the website to sign up as a survivor to take part in the survivor lap.

A new staff partner and new and old faces heading committees have Kelley excited about the 2012 Relay for Life in Wapakoneta.

The local group is working with Jesse Purcell, a new staff partner, who replaced Deb Smith, who served as the American Cancer Society representative for the first 14 years.

If anyone wants to help on a committee, they can contact Tiffany Fullenkamp at 419-738-3303, who is serving as this year’s chair.

“I just want people to give Relay for Life another chance,” Kelley said. “I want people to remember why we are doing it. We have refreshed a lot of things this year and our partner this year is awesome and she is so energetic and upbeat.

“We have to remember for whom we are doing it because cancer is such an awful thing, it affects so many people,” she said. “I bet there isn’t anyone reading this who hasn’t been touched in some way by cancer. It is such an important cause.”