BEAVER SPRINGS — Ange Keiser, chairperson of the 2013 Midd-West Relay event summed up her thoughts, "I am thrilled with the outcome of the ninth annual Midd-West Relay For Life. At the start of the Relay we were about halfway towards our goal of $43,200 and when the relay ended we closed at $39,800, and money continues to come in. We worked hard, accomplished a lot, and we should be proud of ourselves because together we are making a difference.
"I was also really happy with the entertainment we had this year. Many of the musicians were ‘local talent’, but we also had entertainers who traveled from Lock Haven, Halifax, Milton and Selinsgrove. I want to thank everyone for making the 2013 Midd-West Relay For Life a huge success and I hope to see you all next year," she said.
The "Planting Seeds of Hope to Grow a Cure for Tomorrow" themed event attracted 15 teams in support of the cause. The event was held the weekend of June 14-15 at the Beaver Fairgrounds in Beaver Springs.
Darlene Steffen, of Middleburg, had her hair cut during the Relay For Life event by Jennifer Hockenberry. She donated 15 inches to the Locks of Love Foundation. She also had a personal reason for choosing to donate during the Relay event.
"I am a cancer survivor. My husband has been a lung cancer survivor for a couple of months now. I am doing this for everyone who has been affected by cancer," she said.
Marsha Duman, executive director at Empire Beauty School and one of the stylists, was moved as well.
"This is an amazing event. It is a proud moment that we have a chance to give back," she said.
"I just love my haircut" Ed Kline said. He and his wife Sue have been attending the event since 2008. This year is more personal than ever.
"I just lost my cousin Shawn Basom. That’s why I am here," Sue said with her eyes filling up with tears.
Another participant, Donna Stover Sweigart explained the reason for her attendance as: "Grandma Bailey is the reason I started walking in the Relay For Life a few years ago. I still walk in the memory of her and all the others who have passed away in the past few years and for the ones who are fighting the battle now. We just had another family friend loose her battle this week. My thoughts and prayers are with Ruth Moist’s family and friends. I know I have said this before, but don’t take life for granted, live your life to the fullest. Love your family and friends with all your heart. You never know what tomorrow will bring."
Ruth and Francis Keister were browsing the Chinese auction tables. Judy Yeater will be an 18 year breast cancer survivor in September.
"I am glad to be here," she said. Her husband Dennis is also a cancer survivor.
"Survivors & Friends" is an active support group for cancer survivors. They meet the second Monday of the month rotating between in the Community Room of the Weber-Rinck Health Center in Middleburg and the American Cancer Society Building behind Wendy’s in Selinsgrove. For more information contact Karen at (570) 837-5045.
Guest speakers for the Survivor Celebration Ceremony were Honorary Co-Chairpersons Natalie Knepp and Clarine Troup. Knepp concluded her speech with these thoughts, "What I have learned through this whole experience is that you must be your own advocate, no one is looking out for you but yourself and your loved ones.
"So much of my stress could have been eliminated if I would have been willing to travel the first time around," she said. "And last, but not least, trust your instincts. I never in a million years would have thought going to the doctor for a routine visit would have given me this much of a story, but thank God I did."
Sheila Rowe spoke on behalf of her mother, Clarine Troup: "With my faith in God, the support of my family and friends, I will have the strength to continue to fight on with my battle against cancer."
"Is it enough?" was the question posed by The Fight Back guest speaker Matt Kwiterovich. "Are we doing enough to win this battle with cancer?" He presented the following facts: 290 genes related to cancer have been identified. Today we have 14 million people alive in the U.S. with cancer. The ACS (American Cancer Society) has 44 Nobel Prize winners in cancer related discoveries. He encouraged the audience to offer a ride, cook a meal for the family in case mom is too sick, hold a cancer patient’s hand and tell them that it is okay to be scared. "Be there for them — it may be enough."
The children of West Snyder Elementary School decorated over 400 luminaria bags and they were used to spell out the word "Hope." They glowed throughout the night to show respect and love. During the luminaria ceremony, Ange Keiser commented on the energy in the air: "That energy is hope, the combined power of hundreds of thousands of people coming together in a common cause to eradicate a disease." With tears in her eyes she continued, "The American Cancer Relay For Life is held to remember those we have lost to cancer, to support all those who are battling the disease, and to work towards the day that no one has to hear the words you have cancer."
The Chinese auction was a new and successful event this year. The popular basket auction featured 66 baskets and raised $1,817 for the cause. Teams put together baskets "In Honor of" or "In Memory of" loved ones. The baskets contain items that tell a story of what that person enjoyed during their life. The top basket, "a fishing/boat basket" was assembled In Memory of Ray Pray by the All in the Family team.
The All in the Family Team hosted a quilt signing booth. The quilt will be auctioned at the 2014 relay. The fundraiser will continue throughout the year. For more information contact Ruth at (570) 539-8727.
The top fundraising teams were: St. Paul’s Wonder Walkers, $7,024.71; All in the Family, $7,007.01; Paxtonville United Methodist Church Faith Walkers, $6,302.26; Relay 4 Life Pals, $4,366.58, and Busy Beavers, $2,237.88. The highest individual totals at the end of the Relay were: Gene Lizardi (All in the Family), $1,259.10; Donna Mattern (St. Paul’s Wonder Walkers), $1,256.26; Sheila Rowe (Yellow Peeps), $1,096.74, John Jordan (St. Paul’s Wonder Walkers), $1,088.21, and Ange Keiser (Relay 4 Life Pals), $1,021.77.