Finding Fellowship, Support, and Celebration of Survival at Relay

Kim JenningsLiz Marquardt and Julie GoodpastorJeanie UrbanChelsea Carter, Ashley Drury, Waylon Holt, Bethany Holt and Cheyann HoltJan SextonCounty Clerk Jason DennySurvivor's Lap

Relay for Life is an opportunity to celebrate cancer survivors and also to thank the caregivers while at the same time raise money for cancer research. Many of us have lost family or friends to cancer, so it is easy to see why Relay for Life is important.

It was a huge success drawing participants from all over central Kentucky. Purple was the color of the day/evening as purple is used to symbolize all cancers.  Downtown stores and lampposts were decorated in purple to lend support to this important event. Many of the sponsors used purple to decorate their booths in an additional show of support.

Kim Jennings, the event chair person, did a great job in organizing and publicizing the event.  According to Kim, who lost her mom in 2005 at the age of 49, there were about 300 survivors that attended the event.  They were very visible in their purple survivor tee-shirts.  Altogether, there may have been 1000 or more in attendance.

Relay for Life began in 1985 with one man, Dr Gordy Klatt, in Tacoma Washington, running and walking for 24 hours to bring attention to the need to raise money for cancer research.  He raised $27,000 that one day.

A year later, he had 340 supporters join the event. That one man’s effort turned into an international movement with over 5200 communities and 20 nations joining the effort.  Anderson County began its involvement in 2002.  Last night’s activities included, a testimony by Patty Ross of her struggles and the celebrating of the survivors and their years of being cancer free, awarding them with medallions.

Liz Marquardt, who is from Lawrenceburg, is a one year cancer survivor.  While attending the Relay, she said, “It means a lot to be there and be cancer free.”  She was there both to receive and give emotional support to others.  Diane Coulter, from Nelson County, has been cancer free for 20 years.  She was there to support everyone else and as a way to give back.  Another attendee is Jeanie Urban who has been cancer free for 28 years.  She was there to try to help those going through it.  This is why the event is so important, because it provides support for survivors and those currently fighting the disease.

There are a variety of events at the Relay.  There is a Survivors Victory Lap and a Caregivers Lap around the track that was laid out and is surrounded by lanterns with candles.  Many, if not all had the names of those lost to cancer on them.  In a moving ceremony, the candles are lit and then the Luminaria Ceremony is performed which remembers those that have lost their fight and those that are currently fighting.

Bethany Holt was there as part of the Commonwealth Credit Union support group.  They have been a sponsor for at least five years, according to Bethany.  Asked why, she said, “Everyone is affected.”  Also, she said one of the employees at the Lawrenceburg Branch is fighting cancer and the people of Commonwealth Credit Union want her to know she is not fighting alone.

Cancer is serious.  But Relay for Life is a time to celebrate.  Because of that, there is food, some games and perhaps the highlight of the night, the Pie in the Face. Farmers Bank and Capital Trust sponsored the contest so people could vote on what local official they would most like to see get hit in the face with a pie.

Sheriff Troy Young won the vote and was scheduled to get it. Unfortunately, Troy is trying to recover from a broken foot so County Clerk Jason Denny graciously took the sheriff’s place.

Jan Sexton of Farmers Bank got to do the honors.  It should be noted that she had quite a smile on her face and did not seem apologetic at all as she nailed Jason.  Jason was a good sport about it but did say that he called Troy to thank him for the privilege of replacing him.  For those interested in the details, it was a cool whip pie, although Jan would have preferred chocolate.

The event was a success at its new location on the Lawrenceburg Green.  It was a beautiful evening, great crowd, good entertainment and most of all, a celebration for the survivors.

-Written by Don West

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