The power of purple
The Relay for Life celebration to benefit the American Cancer Society took place at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds from 7 p.m. Friday night to 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Also celebrating the 100th birthday of the American Cancer Society, committee members, survivors, their families and friends gathered to share experiences and remember those who have lost their battles.
As the fairgrounds was growing crowded before the opening ceremony, food stands, as well as the 12 teams camping there for the night, offered onsite sales. “A New Beginning,” “Champs Busy Bees,” “Church Mutual Insurance Company,” “Courtside Furniture,'' “Good Samaritan,” “Marshfield Clinic,” “One Way Collision Center,” “Our Saviour's Good Neighbors,” “Utopia Salon,” “Walgreens,” “Walmart” and “Woller Family Reunion” participated as event team fund raisers. The money collected is donated to the American Cancer Society’s efforts to find cures and offer support to cancer patients.
The opening ceremony was held in the main tent. It began with the presentation of colors by the Boy Scout Troop 503. Right after, a prayer was recited by pastor Maurice Shaus. As in every year, one of the most important moments at the event arrived: the speech of the Hero of Hope, a survivor chosen to share the story of their battle. A moving, yet supporting and happy speech was given by survivor and also caregiver Ginny Schaper. It ended with a warm applause, as she smiled and backed off stage.
Tears flowed in the following tribute to Gloria Lukes, a past Hero of Hope who passed away since last year’s Relay. Doves were released by her family members in her memory. During the survivor recognition ceremony, as their names were called, each person went through the “high five tunnel.” More doves were released just before the first lap of survivors and caregivers started. The families joined in the second lap.
The circus was the theme for the event this year, dubbed “Under the Big Top!” Some clowns walked by, kids were able to play at the bouncy house. Plenty of fun things were available around the fairground: free blood pressure checks in the Sell Building by Walgreens pharmacist Zoua Yang, hair dressing at the main tent by Waves Salon and Josepha's Salon, massages in the Lions stand and recording artist Debbie Merkel singing.
The evening events ended with the Luminaria Ceremony. In paper bags decorated in memory of or honor of loved ones, candles were placed inside and lit the path for the walkers.
Cancer is an illness that has many types, and each person lives it in a different way. The purpose of this event is to share those stories, find support and raise the money needed to find a cure. Every single person has different reasons to be there, the shades of their happiness after winning the battle and any advice they can give feels like a need.
Ginny Schaper, Hero of Hope, had the following to share: "I am here because after someone you loved passed away you feel lost. And being here makes you feel better. We are able to raise money to help for the research of a cure. After winning this battle I feel like I've been given a second chance, like as if there is a reason that I am still here. That is why I volunteer with various organizations, why I help people. The advice that I would give anyone who is currently fighting cancer is to keep fighting and smiling. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, don't let it ruin your life. Friends and family are the most important thing of all."
Young cancer survivor, Angela, 9, was at the Relay because she survived the cancer she fought when she was only 2 years old. "I feel good and I am proud,” she said. Along with her family, she agrees that you need to have a good attitude and stay positive.
Dawn, 40, said, "I am here to help other people by sharing my experience with cancer and to help raise money for a cure." As a survivor of cancer, she feels absolutely blessed. "Every day is a gift,” she smiles. "When you are fighting cancer, you have to keep a positive attitude no matter what. You have to be strong. You have to appreciate the small things. For example: while receiving chemotherapy, you might find that some things can taste really good. Find something you love and eat a lot of it! You have to pamper yourself everyday!"