Switzerland County ‘Relay for Life’ event brings in over $22,000 for cancer research

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The seventh annual Switzerland County “Relay for Life” event to raise money for cancer research was held on Friday and Saturday night at the track at Switzerland County High School; and enthusiastic volunteers walked their way to raising more than $22,000 to help find a cure for cancer.

Friday afternoon brought hot, sunny weather, and teams participating in the event got busy setting up canopies and tents to give them a team home as well as some protection from the sun. Many people pitched in to set up the luminary buckets around the perimeter of the track; and at 5:15 p.m. the event got underway with a dinner for cancer sufferers and survivors in the high school cafeteria.

The relay walking portion of the event began at 6 p.m. with the colors being presented by members of Boy Scout Troop #741. Following the “Pledge of Allegiance”, cancer survivors gathered on the track for the ceremonial first lap. Walkers began their journey around the track by passing through an arch of white and purple balloons. The Boy Scouts led the first lap carrying the American Flag and the Indiana State Flag.

The second lap of the event saw the cancer survivors be joined by their family members and caregivers. Since the event was being held during the Father’s Day weekend; all of the fathers were asked to walk the third lap as a tribute to them.

After that, members of the various teams began their laps around the track as a symbol of the never ending battle to find a cure for cancer.

One of the most popular events of the “Relay for Life” is the auction; and again auctioneer Chester Meisberger kept things light by weaving humor through the bidding. Tammy Hayes, Marylee Tolbert, Gayle Rayles, and others coordinated the wide array of items that were up for bid — ranging from an overnight stay at Belterra to the black bra that Dr. Bob Findley wore during his portrayal of Daisy Duke during last year’s Swiss Wine Festival parade.

Dr. Findley bought the personal item back at the auction, not being able to part with his donation.

Bidding was spirited throughout the event, with approximately $1,500 raised during the auction.

While the different events were going on, music was played for the enjoyment of everyone; and as the sun went down, cooler temperatures were also welcomed by those participating.

With night falling on the event, the evening was capped off with the luminary service, with the Boy Scouts and other volunteers lighting the candles in more than 700 buckets — each covered with a paper in honor of or in memory of someone who has faced cancer.

All of the lights around the track were shut off as each of the names were read, beginning with those “In Memory”; followed by those “In Honor”. After the list of names were read, the track remained silent for several moments as participants and others slowing walked around the track, reading the names on the luminaries and searching for family members and friends.

Although the crowd thinned out a bit following the luminary service; many team members remained on site throughout the night, continuing to walk the laps and enjoy the fellowship of not only their teammates, but also having the chance to visit with people from other teams.

Morning brought the inevitable clean up of campsites and the general areas; and as everyone left, there was a general feeling of a job well done for the benefit of those who are in need of help.