‘Relay for Life’ brings in more than $32,000 to help fund cancer research

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It was sunny and hot Friday at the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park; and later in the evening predictions of heavy storms led to an early finish; but in spite of all obstacles the 2009 Switzerland County “Relay for Life” event raised more than $32,000 for the American Cancer Society.

This was the 10th year that Switzerland County has hosted a “Relay for Life” event; and organizers marked the anniversary by returning to the site of the first one – along the banks of the Ohio River in the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park.

This year’s theme celebrated the event’s 10th birthday: “A Decade Long, and Still Going Strong.”

Friday’s festivities kicked off with the Survivors Dinner, which was held at the Switzerland County High School cafeteria, and from there cancer survivors and their family members and caregivers came down to the park. Due to the hot weather, survivors gathered under a gazebo on the west side of the park entrance; and each survivor was presented with a medallion by organizers for their heroic battle.

The high temperatures also meant that the ceremonial opening lap was shortened, allowing the survivors to avoid walking all the way around the park in the hot weather.

Tycia Martin entertained all of the teams prior to the arrival of the survivors; as groups set up their campsites for judging and got all of their decorations in place. The ceremonies began with the Boy Scouts presenting the American Flag; and Peggy Eckerty sang “The National Anthem.”

Once the survivors were recognized, caregivers and family members joined in for the second lap with their survivor – and again the lap was shortened in order to keep everyone out of the hot weather.

Teams – complete with team flags – then took a lap together prior to the start of the individual walks, and the teams and survivors were entertained by the singing of Norman Romans of Lamb.

This year there were 16 teams at the event: Team Sullivan; Fishing Buddies; FFA; Olive Branch Baptist Church; YMCA; New Liberty Baptist Pioneers; Dumpster Diving Divas; Luau for Life; MainSource Bank; Jefferson-Craig Elementary School; Trinity Baptist Church; Russell’s Angels; Florence and Friends; 4-H Castaways; Mom-Pop; and Trump Pavy.

The employees of MainSource Bank again did a wonderful job organizing the auction, with a wide variety of items being sold to the highest bidder – all for the benefit of cancer research.

This year, preliminary figures show that the auction raised more than $1,500.

One of the highlights of Friday night was the “fashion show” at the Main Stage. This year, five county men – all very good sports – strutted their stuff in outfits made entirely of duct tape and toilet paper.

Contestants included: Keith Smith; ‘Tater’ Powell; and high school coaches Brian Bowen, Mark Boggs, and Sean McGarvey.

Tater Powell was judged by the crowd to be the winner, styling a duct tape mini skirt and sandals. He won a night the Best Western Ogle Haus Inn for his efforts.

The luminary service, always one of the most moving times of the “Relay for Life”, began just after 10 p.m. Candlelit buckets containing the names of people who are either battling cancer or who have lost their battle with the disease circled the relay course.

This year more than 700 luminaries were purchased for the ceremony.

The names of those who had luminaries purchased for them were read by Wayne Daugherty, Dr. Robert Findley, and Bruce Tressler.

As the luminary service came to a close, those at the park began to receive reports that severe storms were possible for the area; and teams made the difficult decision to pack up for the night before anyone got caught in heavy rain and storms.

The early close meant that some of the theme laps were not contested; but everyone still had a great time walking for a great cause.

The “Luau for Life” team, which was in honor of Jean Lock and Shirley Gregory, won the award for the best campsite.