Fighting cancer: Relay for Life raises awareness, funds

The Auglaize County Relay for Life had a good turnout with weather and participants this weekend, organizers say, as teams walked all night for the fight against cancer.
Raising a total of $38,969, teams and organizers said they were thrilled with the total, as it was announced during the closing ceremony on Saturday at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
Organizers said this event has two major goals — to raise awareness of cancer and to raise funds for research.
American Cancer Society representative Deb Smith said this was the largest turnout of cancer survivors who had attended the opening ceremony and survivor’s lap, which was held on Friday evening.
“We probably had 205 survivors,” Smith said. “It’s awesome.”
Smith said a major goal of this event is to raise awareness about cancer.
“Other than raising funds, we also do Relay to educate and make more people aware and how to prevent cancer,” Smith said. “This is about awareness.”
Smith estimated approximately 400 people attended the event this weekend.
“I think this is an awesome event,” Smith said. “We have good community support, and I would like to thank the donators.”
The event had many sponsors including G.A. Wintzer & Son, who were the luminaria sponsors, Wal-Mart, Clear Channel Radio, the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, First National Bank, who were the ceremonial sponsors, Poppe Law Office, First National Bank in New Bremen, RG Sounds and Communications and Verizon Wireless.
Relay for Life Chair Kelly Harbaum said that she relays because cancer never sleeps.
“The minute we quit fighting — cancer wins,” Harbaum said. “If we stop fighting, it will never be cured.”
Harbaum said a major goal of this event it to find a cure for cancer.
“It’s all about raising money to give to research efforts,” Harbaum said.
Harbaum said that cancer affects everyone.
“Someone knows someone affected by cancer,” Harbaum said. “Everyone has a story.”
Harbaum also noted that this is the largest turnout of cancer survivors that she has seen at the event.
“The survivors give us hope, courage and drive to keep going,” Harbaum said.
After the opening ceremony on Friday evening, participants and teams walked the path at the fairgrounds continuously throughout the night, and raised donations for the event with each team setting up their own tent and selling food, t-shirts and haircuts by donation only.
Stylists at Great Clips, of Wapakoneta, donated their talents by giving haircuts and spray painting hair, with temporary dye, during the event.
“It’s going wonderful,” Great Clips manager Kim Stephens said at the beginning of the event. “I can’t wait to keep doing this. We will come back next year.”
The Great Clips team also was selling “burn sticks” where a person wrote on the stick what they hate the most about cancer, and then they could throw the stick into the bonfire during the event.
At The Learning Center’s tent, members were face painting cancer ribbons on faces.
Team member Morgan Felver, 13, said this was her first time here.
“We’re helping out for a good cause,” Felver said, of her favorite part of the event.
Wapakoneta Redskins varsity basketball coach and teacher Matt Bradley was a part of the Rock Out Cancer team, and he donated his time by sitting up on the team’s dunk tank.
“This is a great cause,” Bradley said at the event. “They approached me last year to do it, and hopefully we raise a few dollars.”
Also during the event, there was a basket auction, which raised $1,353. Auctioneer Steve Myers, along with the help of team captain for Team MOMs Gary Webb, conducted the auction.
Webb said many of the baskets were auctioned off at high amounts.
“It was pretty good,” Webb said. “The turnout was good for all of the teams.”
He said overall the weather was good, despite some rain during the night.
Webb said he especially enjoys helping out with the event, because his father and sister had skin cancer, and his mother and his wife’s mother died after battling cancer.
This is where his team name — Team MOMs — came about.
Wapakoneta High School Principal Aaron Rex also was a participant at the event this weekend. He joined other faculty members to create Team WHS.
“We haven’t had a team for 5 or 6 years,” Rex said. “I love to get involved in the community.”
Rex was approached by team captain of Rock Out Cancer Tiffany Fullenkamp and the American Cancer Society to enter a team into this year’s event.
“There has been a lot of people in the school system that have had cancer or have been affected by cancer,” Rex said. “My favorite part was watching the survivor walk and seeing people I know walk in it.”