Relay for Life sees sunny skies and lots of participants, over $40,000 raised during event

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The eighth annual Switzerland County Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society was held on Friday and Saturday of last week, and with warm and sunny skies giving way to a beautiful clear night, a large group of volunteers had a great time raising money for the cause.

With final figures still to be determined, organizers said that early numbers show that this year’s event will raise more than $40,000 – nearly double of what was raised last year.

The day got started with cancer survivors being honored at the Survivor Dinner that was held in the high school cafeteria, and following that the group held opening ceremonies at the high school track, with Peggy Eckerty singing “The National Anthem”, and the American Flag being presented by members of Boy Scout troop #741.

The first lap of the event was reserved for cancer survivors; and on the second lap the group was joined by their family members and caregivers.

From there members of the 19 teams that participated began the process of walking around the track, spending time talking with other team members. Campsites arranged on the inside of the track were good places to find food and sodas, and there were teams that featured games and other activities – all designed to raise money for the event.

“Team Sullivan” – captained by Tye Sullivan – had a “jail” that those in attendance could have others thrown into – for a price. “Bail money” was also an option; as “deputies” Ryan Sullivan, Meighan Sullivan, and Emma Sullivan brought in the criminals and collected the bounty.

Cornhole was being played at several campsites, and the smell of burgers and hot dogs cooking over charcoal spread through the air. Footballs and Frisbees were tossed around, and a wiffle ball game also saw some action on the track’s infield.

The auction was again a big success, with spirited bidding on a variety of items. Auctioneer Tammy Hayes and sidekick Marylee Tolbert told the crowd that they would carry on without longtime auctioneer Chester Meisberger, who was recovering from an auto accident.

The long line of items brought an estimated $2,500.

At 10 p.m. the annual luminary ceremony began, with more than 750 luminaries circling the track. The lighted buckets were purchased by people in honor of those fighting cancer; in celebration of those who have conquered cancer; and in memory of those who have lost that battle.

A “Luminary of Hope” was also placed on a section of bleachers, with the word “Hope” glowing in the darkness as people continued to walk the track.

The luminaries were lit by members of the Boy Scout troop along with other volunteers, and readers Dr. Robert Findley, K.C. Banta, John Keeton, and Wayne Daugherty read all of the names of those who had luminaries purchased in their honor.

That ceremony was followed by all sorts of fun and activities, as teams participated in a variety of themed “laps” that went on throughout the night. Music also came to the event, as Dr. Marc Willage played some tunes on his guitar as other sang along.

The event wrapped up at noon on Saturday with closing remarks, and everyone agreed that this year’s Relay for Life was both fun and profitable.

Roy Duckworth was the chairman of this year’s event.