The weather could not have been more pleasant (with the exception of the wind) Friday night for the 2013 Audrain Relay For Life event. An ample crowd came out to participate in the walk, purchase food, play games or just sit in lawn chairs and listen to the entertainment. It was a night of celebration for cancer survivors and a night of remembrance for those who have died from the dreadful disease.
Organizers were pleased with the event which raised $77,340 with more money still to come in. "We have wonderful community support for the relay," stated Nancy Early, a Relay For Life Committee member.
This year's event featured a couple of changes, one being the location and another being the time, which Early believed helped with the number of people attending. "The location worked out well, it was in town and the location was good," said Early. She also said that shortening the time of the event helped with people staying longer.
Numerous purple shirts were seen indicating cancer survivors. These survivors gathered together to start the first lap around the made up track as spectators clapped as they rounded the track. Joining them for the second lap were the caregivers. The doctors then walked the lap followed by the teams (several in costume) participating.
Friday night's emcee was Michael Daugherty. The event began with the singing of the National Anthem by Dorothy Newman. The Rev. Jerry Ostrom gave a prayer for the event and for all survivors and those who have lost the battle with cancer.
Susan Gheens-Magnus was the torch bearer for this year, lighting the flame that would burn throughout the evening and into early Saturday morning.
Prior to the laps several awards were presented by the Relay For Life Committee. The Girls Night Out team was awarded the Heart of Relay Award. Team members are Beverly Meuschke, Susan Paden, Nancy Early, Carol Bedford, Cary Travis, Gail Hatfield, Darinda Mast, Carolyn Dragoo, Amy Auwarter and Jennifer Geeson.
Paint the Town Purple Award was presented to Scrapbook Store and More; and the Dr. Ned Rodes Award was presented to Melody Farnen. The team raising the most money will be announced at the wrap up meeting.
Susan Berti of Palmyra, a cancer caregiver, told her story of caring for her husband who died of cancer. She still attends Relay for Life events because she believes it is important to support the cause. "People who lost someone still need to fight," she said. Some people don't come back if they have lost someone, she added but she believes everyone should join in the fight against cancer. "If we (caregivers) give up fighting, we all lose. We need to stand up and fight," she explained.
At dusk the luminaria were lighted and at midnight fireworks were shot off on the football field in celebration of those surviving cancer.