SIDNEY — Rainy weather did not deter participants from showing up for the 18th annual Shelby County Relay For Life’s opening ceremonies on Friday, Aug. 3.
The all-night fundraising event, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending Saturday afternoon, had a superhero theme this year, with some event organizers sporting capes and masks.
According to event co-lead Deb Kaufman, the fundraising goal is set at $150,000. Kaufman estimated that roughly $89,000 had been raised by the time the event began. Relay For Life has fundraising events throughout the year, culminating in the overnight gathering held each summer.
The event started with a blood drive, which began at 5 p.m., ending at 9 p.m. Opening ceremonies were held at 6 p.m., and featured a segment by survivor Alison Martin, of Sidney.
Martin, accompanied onstage by her husband of 30 years, Tim, shared her story of cancer survival.
“My journey started last year,” Martin began. “When I was here for Relay last year, I had no idea I would be a cancer survivor and find out I had cancer two weeks later.”
Martin said she had fallen while playing softball on June 29, 2017, after which she noticed a lump in her breast. Attributing it to the fall, Martin visited a doctor for preliminary testing just to be sure.
“I ended up, on Aug. 16, at the Stefanie Spielman Breast Center in Columbus,” she said. “I must say, it was a great place; we had great nurses and doctors. My surgeon was wonderful, but when he came into the room, the first thing he said (is), ‘I’m recommending a mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiation.’ I thought he walked into the wrong room.”
Martin was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. She underwent a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy, which Martin said she completed in January. In mid-February, she completed 32 treatments of radiation. She attributes her survival to both the treatment she received and the help of those around her, whom she calls “caregivers.”
“Caregivers are such an important part,” she said. “They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, it takes a village of caregivers to raise up a cancer patient.”
The evening’s festivities started with the survivor/caregiver lap and included events throughout the night, like “name that hourly tune,” a baked goods auction and a superhero costume parade.
At 9 p.m., the luminaria ceremony was held. This is one of Relay For Life’s more emotional segments, which involves the lighting of candles, each dedicated to someone who was directly affected by cancer.
The candles are sold for $10 each. According to Erica Presser, a third-year volunteer for the luminaria program, 625 candles had been sold by the time Friday’s event began, with that number rising steadily as visitors continued to purchase candles up until the Luminaria ceremony commenced.
Events like a frozen T-shirt contest, a lip sync contest, family feud, line dancing and “glo yoga” took place throughout the night. A pancake breakfast is set to take place from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday morning, followed by an auction beginning at 9 a.m., a “Small Fry Tri,” for those ages 2 through 10 a.m., a “Road to Recovery Race” at 10 a.m., and closing ceremonies beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.