Archive for Thursday, June 12, 2003

High hopes pay off

Relay for Life sets record with $64,985.29 raised

June 12, 2003

As the temperatures dropped Friday night and Saturday morning, the amount of money in the bank kept growing at Eudora's sixth annual Relay for Life. During the event at Laws Field, emcees continued to announce the growing coffers dedicated to the American Cancer Society for cancer research and support services. The efforts culminated with a final plea to gather a little more than a hundred dollars so the Eudora event could reach the $65,000 mark.

Although the event brought in more than $65,000, the American Cancer Society's official tally as of Monday afternoon was $64,985.29, almost twice as much as this year's goal of $35,000. Expenses will be taken out of that total.

Aside from the staggering earnings this year, it was business as usual at the Relay, from the late-night antics of Ed Pyle with Wired for Sound to the groups of children and adults alike clammering to answer trivia questions for prizes at 2 a.m. The Relay honored other traditions, too, like the musical sounds of Junkyard Jazz and other performers who got participants in the spirit, and the tradition of lighting a relay torch.

As always, the emphasis was on the survivors and those who died from cancer. Starting a new tradition before their lap, cancer survivors passed through an honor tunnel made up of committee members. At this year's luminaria ceremony, the survivors and deceased were honored with a quiet gathering by their luminaria on the track and with visitors perusing the names listed on a Wall of Hope and Remembrance.

"If you have never been to a luminaria ceremony, you will leave one touched, because it will change your life," said emcee Rod Moyer.

The reading of names took place throughout the night, with the joyous walking tunes interrupted every half hour by a solemn reminder of the Relay's purpose.

"We've got to remember why we're here," Moyer told participants during the opening ceremonies. "We've lost a lot of people to cancer this year."

Organizer Marilyn Laws Porter named some of the people who were absent at this year's event, including Kenny Badger, whom Porter said she would miss see riding around on his scooter.

Before announcing the survivors, Porter called the survivor lap the heart of the Relay.

"I'm so happy, as many as there are here tonight," she said. "Our Relay kids are amazing. Everybody has a story."

Luminaria ceremony guest speaker Ron Abel began his by talking about being a cancer survivor.

"I am not a personal survivor," Abel said. "It did not attack my body -- it attacked my being."

Abel's twin brother, Don, died more than four years ago. Ron Abel knew how long it had been to the month and day since Don died of colon cancer at 36. Ron Abel said the Relay stirred up emotions that went with fighting cancer -- love, joy, pride, and finally, relief.

Even though victim is a word often used to describe those with cancer, Abel said he never saw his brother through those eyes. During his last day in the hospital, it was Don doing the comforting, Ron said.

"My brother was unique and special, but he is not unique in his capacity to teach others about life," Abel said.

Fellow guest speaker and 38-year cancer survivor Rita Conner told the audience the lesson her battle could teach them was early detection.

"It goes to show we must keep up with our check-ups," she said.

The spirit of the Relay was two-fold, Conner's son Ron, the Eudora mayor, told the gathering.

"As this night goes on, we will have a time for fun and a time for reflection, and may we all benefit from the experience."

Cancer research and patients seeking support will be the beneficiaries of the funds raised throughout the Eudora community.

"The community should be commended and thanked," Abel said. "What has been happening with the Relay for Life is a miracle."

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