Relay for Life held under cool conditions on Saturday, money raised for fight against cancer

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The annual Switzerland County Relay for Life event had a new format this year, with the fundraiser for the American Cancer Society going to a single day rather than the overnight schedule that had been used in the past.

Saturday brought cool temperatures and some breezy conditions early in the day; but that didn’t stop residents, along with cancer survivors and their family and friends, from coming to the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park for the activities.

Things got started early with a 5K Run/Walk; and the official opening ceremonies were held beginning at 11 a.m.

After members of the Vevay Music Club opened with The National Anthem, members of the American Legion Riders group, took a ceremonial lap around the park before heading out on a ride in honor of the day.

The first lap was reserved for those either battling cancer or those who have survived the disease, with family members cheering them on as they made their way around the park.

Then it was time for family, friends, and caregivers to join in for the second lap; and groups of all sizes not only walked the lap, but celebrated what the day stood for.

“Team Jeanne” was quite a sight for the event, as more than 60 people came to support Jeanne Konkle in her battle. Wearing white shirts with blue ribbons on the back and “Team Jeanne” on that, the entire team walked in masse with Jeanne. A couple of blue tu-tu’s were also the preferred apparel of the day for a couple of the male team members.

The annual Survivors Luncheon was moved down into the park this year, rather than at the high school where it has been held in the past. The luncheon provided survivors the chance to sit and fellowship with others who have been in their struggle, and kept the group close to the other relay activities.

Around 6 p.m. the annual auction got underway, with Adam Griffin handling the auctioneer duties. A wide range of items were available for bidding, from baked goods to cedar benches; tee-shirts to gift cards. A good sized group had a good time with some spirited bidding going back and forth.

The evening ended with the luminary service, with the perimeter of the park lined with white buckets with a card on the front of each bearing the name of either a cancer survivor or in memory of those who have lost their fight. As the names were read over the loud speaker, the candles within each bucket illuminated the course in the darkened park, and brought those who were still at the park to a reverent silence.

After that, it was time to pack up and close the event for the year. Teams cleaned up their campsites and put away their food and chairs and headed home, but not without a strong sense of the importance of the continuance of research towards finding a cure for this dreaded disease.