POMEROY — Relay for Life began when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran around a track in Tacoma, Wash., for 24 hours in May 1985 to raise money for American Cancer Society.
Klatt’s initial effort raised $27,000. The movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon and subsequent events have raised nearly $5 billion total.
Meigs County Fairgrounds was the site Friday for the 2015 Relay for Life of Meigs County. Sponsors of the event were too numerous to mention, but their support of the Relay was very apparent during the event with contributions of time and money.
Cancer Awareness ribbons that included more than 14 colors decorated luminaries and T-shirts. Pink for breast cancer is perhaps the most familiar, but there are others, including lavender for general cancer awareness and teal for ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers.
This organized, family-friendly community fundraising walk featured teams formed by families, friends, neighbors and others who came out to show their support and be part of the Relay. Because the Relay is a team event, individual participants were not required to walk the entire time. Instead, team members took turns walking around the track.
The opening ceremony began with a welcom by Rick Ash and a prayer by cancer survivor Peggy Bole. Drew Webster Post 39 presented the flag and lead the Pledge of Allegience.
At the start of the Relay, cancer survivors at the event took the first lap around the track. Called the Survivor Lap, their victory was celebrated by other participants who lined the track and cheered.
The next lap was the Caregiver Lap, which recognized and celebrated caregivers who give support to loved ones facing cancer.
The Parade of Teams followed and included ABC Avengers, Adkins/Hendrix, Eastern Local, Event Leadership Team, Keith’s Git ‘Er Done, Holzer Meigs Dedicated to the Cure, Meigs High School Student Council, Meigs Middle School, Pirates of the Cure I BBean, Southern Local School District, Star Grange Relayers, Tara’s Pink Troop, TOPS 2013 Tuppers Plains and Tuppers Plains Cancer Fighting Angels.
A reception was held for survivors, with Harmony Connection providing the entertainment. Swinging Seniors danced as teams continued to walk the Relay.
The luminaria ceremony was a glowing tribute to those who’ve been affected by cancer. The ceremony honored people who have fought cancer in the past and showed support for those whose fight continues. The ceremony began with a prayer by Pastor Adam Will and survivor Gloria Olierspoke. Olier and family are part of team Keith’s Git ‘Er Done, formed five years ago in honor of her husband, Keith Olier.
The Lighting of the Candle of Hope was followed by a lap in silence. The ceremony ended with a ballon launch and poem.
Heidi Rittenour and Carolyn Grueser were there to provide information on the availability of free mamograms. More than 6,500 women in Meigs County qualify, and their goal is to make mamograms and any necessary follow-up testing as easy as possible for women in the area.
In 2014, the American Cancer Sociey helped 48 Meigs County patients and their families. Meigs County has seen 26 newly diagnosed cases, 13 of which were under or uninsured. In additon, they have provided information, patient programs and funding for research grants.
Rockin’ Reggie provided the upbeat music while participants finsished the evenings activities. From all accounts, the evening was a success in terms of fundraising efforts, bringing people together and raising awareness in the local fight against cancer.
For more information on free mamograms, contact 740-992-5469. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed, call 1-800-227-2345 for help and support.
Lorna Hart can be reached at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2551.