Relay for Life celebrates survivors, inspires fight against cancer
The Guthrie County Relay for Life was held indoors for the first time this year as survivors, their families and friends joined together Friday, June 15, at the Guthrie County Fairgrounds Event Center in Guthrie Center.
The Relay for Life in Guthrie County is a county-wide event where the entire community is invited to come and enjoy the celebration of survivors. The money raised supports ground breaking cancer research, education and risk reduction efforts, free information and critical services for people with cancer who need them.
Relay for Life Senior Community Manager Kim Durst said $18,000 was raised at Friday’s event, bringing the local fundraising total to $59,500 with a few fundraisers planned yet this summer.
“We are excited to surpass this year’s goal of $60,000 to finish the fight against cancer,” Durst said Monday morning.
Fifty survivors, along with their caregivers, and 18 teams joined together to celebrate in a “Campin’ Out to Kick Cancer’ theme day.
“We loved seeing the incredible support from the community for the survivors and fighting cancer,” Durst said.
There was a silent auction and pie auction. A free-will donation dinner was served by the Betty Smith Family and the Guthrie County Hospital. The American Legion Post #124 provided the Color Guard. ACGC graduate Collin Stowe sang the National Anthem. Fight back cheers were lead by high school cheerleaders. There was a cake walk and games through the night.
Young cancer survivors Morgan Sheeder, who just finished her freshman year of high school at AC/GC, and Emma Reinhart, who will be a freshman at Panorama next fall, were the honorary survivors this year.
Paula Sheeder, who was also diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2002, shared her daughter Morgan’s story. Reinhart shared her own. Both stories brought awareness and encouragement, while thanking the community for all of the support.
Reinhart and Sheeder carried the banner as survivors lined up behind them for the first lap of the Relay.
Music throughout the night was filled with messages of how hope and faith can overcome the fear, pain and loss that cancer can bring.
Luminaries were decorated with photos and sparkly glitter, and the names of a survivor or loved one with cancer were lit with glow sticks during the ceremony.
Durst said many people thanked her and the committee for having the event inside this year where it was much cooler than the high 90 degree temperatures outside.
“We do this for our survivors and we want them to be comfortable and to enjoy their time at the Relay,” Durst said. “A few did mention they missed the walking outside and we are already working on a plan for next year for the walkers outside.”
The “Relay After Party, Under the Stars” with The Pale Moons, Chad Elliott and Anna Kopaska and the hypnotist, Randy Andrews were a huge hit.
“There was a small crowd but the evening was absolutely beautiful filled with incredible music and laughter,” Durst said. “An incredible ending to a great day.”
Co-chairs for this year’s Relay for Life in Guthrie County were Amber Wetzel and Elle Helmkamp. Committee members were: Becky Secoy, Cara Underwood, Caroline Kness, Cindy Slaybaugh, Cindy Derry, Jenn Danker, Shelli Larsen, Julie Gilge, Kevin Fister, Kim Durst, Kim Heiland, Melva Newbrough, Courtney Sheeder, Nancy Smith, Sheri McCann, Kari Carroll, Vicki Crannell, Lesley Halsey, Angie Crowder, Terri Peterson, Abby Davis, Krysty Melton, Amy Kautzky, Kathy Klinge, Debbie Rockwell, Amy Block, Tami Kuta, Sarah Gilge, and Kim Pruitt.
“These people are volunteers that work throughout the year putting this event together,” Durst said. “We could never do this without their commitment and compassions for the fight against cancer.”