500 take part in Relay for Life

WINTERSVILLE Nearly 500 people came out to support of family and friends whose lives have been influenced by cancer at the Wintersville-Steubenville Relay For Life, which kicked off Friday evening at Indian Creek High School’s track.

Jaclyn Walters-Abrams, chair, said that the weather didn’t seem to slow anyone down.

“If cancer doesn’t stop you, then rain shouldn’t either,” she said. “It’s awesome to see everyone out here to support this effort.”

Bethani Barsch, American Cancer Society representative, said that there were 13 more teams signed up this year than last to make a total of 38 teams participating.

Close to $95,000 has been raised throughout the year for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life, according to Walters-Abrams. Out of each dollar raised or donated, 72 cents goes directly to fighting cancer, which means it’s used for research, prevention, early detection and free patient services; 21 cents goes to honoring survivors and remembering loved ones lost to cancer; and only seven cents is used for general costs and overhead, according to officials.

Walters-Abrams is in her second year as chair, and fighting cancer is a cause that’s close to her heart.

“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 at the age of 33, and there’s someone currently fighting on my team,” she said. “After my brother was diagnosed, he had a 95 percent survival rate, but 20 years ago, it would have only been 10 percent. The research that took place in those 20 years saved his life, and that’s what we are raising money for.”

More than 100 survivors took part in the opening survivor lap, which was lead by Amy Durbin of Toronto. Durbin survived cervical cancer five years ago and was recently diagnosed with colon cancer that she is currently battling. She’s been to Relay for the past three consecutive years. More than 30 of her friends and family members helped raise money this year on her team, Shear Cancer. The team’s moniker was inspired by Durbin’s job as a stylist at Shear Designs salon. Many of her teammates were co-workers and clients.

“It definitely helps to see so much love and support,” she said. “It’s about survival, fighting and hope.”

Walters-Abrams said Durbin was chosen to lead the lap because of her dedication.

“She’s such an inspired person. We wanted her to remember that we fully support her as she faces cancer again,” Walters-Abrams commented.

She added that many local community members and business volunteered time and effort. Wal-Mart Distribution Center donated all concessions, and Trinity School of Nursing organized all the luminarias throughout the stadium. The Lions Club handled registration, and Apollo Cleaning and JD&E Construction funded the balloon release.

“We work all year for this one night. It is a year-round investment, but it’s worth it,” Walters-Abrams said. “We’ve already started on 2015.”

To get involved or volunteer with Relay For Life, visit www.relayforlife.org.

(Dalrymple can be contacted at sdalrymple@heraldstaronline.com)