FOLLANSBEE - "Boot Camp: Fighting the Battle Against Cancer" was the theme for the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Relay for Life, and a small army of area residents turned out Saturday to take part.
Beginning with the survivors' lap at 6:15 p.m., more than 200 took turns walking the athletic track at Follansbee Middle School to raise funds for and awareness of the American Cancer Society's mission of educating the public about cancer prevention and treatment, supporting research to find a cure and assisting cancer patients in various ways.
Dave Secrist, chairman of the Brooke-Hancock Relay, noted $150 million was raised by Relays for Life held last year throughout the U.S. and in 19 other countries.
SURVIVORS' LAP. Many area cancer survivors took the first lap of the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Society Relay for Life Saturday at the Follansbee Middle School athletic field. -- Warren Scott
Wendy Willis, a teacher from Wellsburg, said, "As a cancer survivor myself, I think it's nice they can help patients because it is a financial burden."
Citing an example, Willis said when she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, the organization provided gas cards that lessened the cost for her daily trips to the Teramana Cancer Center for treatment.
Cancer survivor and past Relay chair Sue Simonetti noted Relay for Life teams hold a variety of fundraisers throughout the year, with a motorcycle poker run still to come on Aug. 23 at the Wellsburg Banquet Hall.
During opening ceremonies Secrist said about half of the announced goal of $103,000 had been reached. With still more fundraisers being held Saturday night, he hoped to reach it.
One way the group was raising funds was through the cold water challenge, a new feature in which participants were asked to make a small donation, such as $10, then plunge into a children's swimming pool on the athletic field.
If they declined to take the plunge, they had to make a larger donation, such as $100. Those who agreed to get wet could challenge another person to do the same.
Relay co-chairs Paul and Tammy Hornick and Sandy Yankura got the ball rolling Saturday night by accepting the challenge and jumping into the pool themselves.
Yankura said she didn't mind, given the day's warm temperature.
Also raising funds Saturday night were children in Kids Konnection, a community service club formed by the Franklin Primary School PTA and advised by Kylie Ridgley, PTA president.
In addition to manning the event's concession stand, the group on Saturday presented a $1,032 donation raised through the sale of pizza, baked goods and candy bars.
They were among many school groups that held fundraisers or entered teams in the Relay.
There also were many groups of co-workers, fellow church members, families and mixes of all of the above.
Secrist thanked everyone for participating and the many businesses, groups and individuals who donated money or materials for the event and local government entities. He noted many businesses and residents also helped to promote it by posting banners, bows and other decorations in purple and white, the Relay for Life's official colors, weeks before it.
State Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, presented a proclamation from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declaring June Relay for Life Month in acknowledgment of the funds raised by the local relay and many others.
Saturday's event included a mix of serious and light activities.
Luminaria were lit along the athletic track in memory and honor of loved ones who have fought various forms of the disease, while a balloon launch, a new feature, capped the evening off.
When they weren't taking laps, walkers participated in various games and contests and watched a batttle-of-the-barrel-style competition between local fire departments.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)