Who do you relay for?
The slogan on posters for this yearâ€™s Auglaize County Relay for Life isnâ€™t a hard question for friends and family of Megan Serr to answer. They relay for her, just like she would have done for them, although they suspect she would have found a way to do it even better.
â€śWe do it for the memory of her,â€ť Meganâ€™s cousin-in-law Chris Talowsky said.
Megan, the co-owner of LaGrande
Pizza and LaGrande Zip Stop, died six years ago in early 2006. It was a few months after she was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer, but her physicians told her just days before her death that she had beaten the disease and her cancer was in remission.
â€śCancer didnâ€™t beat her,â€ť Talowsky said. â€śItâ€™s something she wouldnâ€™t let defeat her. She passed away thinking she was cancer free.â€ť
A co-captain of Team Megan with Meganâ€™s younger sister, Shannan Peachey, Talowsky said they walk laps each year during the local American Cancer Societyâ€™s Relay for Life at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, not just for their beloved friend and family member, but for others who have lost their battles with cancer.
Throughout the year they raise money through special Thirty-One product sales, by selling candy and sweets behind the counter at Meganâ€™s former business, and with donation cans set on the counters there as well.
The team has tried all different ways to raise money for the cause, and is known for their tie-dye shirts, said Talowsky.
â€śWe are not door-to-door type people, but we find ways to give however we can,â€ť said Peachey, who mentioned that means Kentucky Derby parties and college basketball brackets where the winners have always given their prize money back to the team.
â€śThatâ€™s the kind of friends we have. They just keep giving back.â€ť
The women said the most important thing has always been finding a way to remember Megan and they spend the Relay retelling funny stories about the woman who was so special to them, inevitably shedding a few tears when they pass by the torch lit in her honor along the track and again when they visit her gravesite after closing ceremonies on Saturday.
Their first year in the Relay, Team Megan came together quickly and in less than a month they raised more than $1,000. Carrying on in Meganâ€™s memory, they also won the most spirited team award that year, and so the tradition has continued each June at the Auglaize County Relay for Life.
â€śIt felt good spending time together as a group, honoring Megan,â€ť Talowsky said.
â€śIt is what keeps us doing it. She would have done it for any one of us.â€ť
Peachey said even though the core group of Meganâ€™s closest family members, friends and co-workers who served as an extended family have all gone different directions in life, relaying for her is the one thing that brings them all back together.
The youngest team members, Meganâ€™s nieces Becca Peachey, 20, and Drew Peachy, 11, began relaying after her death when they were just children. They are always there wearing the shirts and walking the laps, just like the oldest team member, 72-year-old Joy Peachey, Meganâ€™s mother.
Others who loved Megan, like her husband, Carl Serr, may not join in on all the fanfare, but always find time to make it out and walk a few laps as they reflect in her memory during the early morning quiet hours of Relay.
During the event, which begins Friday night, June 22, and extends through noon Saturday, June 23, someone is always walking a lap in Meganâ€™s honor, no matter what time of day it is.
â€śWe may not raise the most money, but we have fun,â€ť said Peachey, who knows that is what fun-loving Megan would have wanted.
With a smile that could light up the room, energy that was contagious and a spirit of kindness that she extended as much to strangers as those she knew, Megan was an inspiration to those around her and was the most giving person in every way, Peachey said. Meganâ€™s family described her as their rock.
Talowsky fondly remembers Megan as her first real friend in Wapakoneta and someone who made it feel like home. She said Megan always had a kind word, genuinely greeted people when she saw them, and always gave back to the community through her business.
Peachey described her older sister as everyoneâ€™s favorite, no matter what role she played in their lives.
â€śCustomers knew her and loved her and continue to donate in her memory,â€ť Talowsky said.
The family has been amazed by their generosity.
Team Meganâ€™s 15 members will be one short this year as they have lost one of Meganâ€™s dearest friends, Jack Emerick, who always contributed a lot of spirit to the event.
â€śWe hope people will come out and spend time at the Relay,â€ť Talowsky said.
Sadly, everyone is touched by cancer in some way, Peachey said.
They also encouraged those considering it to form their own Relay teams.
â€śDonâ€™t be intimidated by how much work you think it will be, it is what you make it,â€ť Talowsky said, noting that relaying can be done at all different levels.
Peachey said although her sister is unforgettable, she never wants to forget and she doesnâ€™t want others to either.
â€śSince our lives are so busy, this gives us an opportunity to remember her together, to reconnect and honor her for how she touched us all,â€ť Talowsky said.