Friday marked the 16th annual Buena Vista County Relay for Life event. Held at the Storm Lake high School track, 17 teams participated and $35,000 was raised; very dollar raised goes toward fighting cancer. Contributions to the Relay For Life help the American Cancer Society fight cancer in four main ways: research, education, advocacy and patient services.
Relay for Life Coordinator Kelly Scott said the number of teams was down by four from last year's event and attendance was down but she is pleased with the amount of money raised. She also stressed that anyone wishing to contribute to the fund may do so until the end of July; give her a call at 730-1133 for more details.
Speaker was Kim Walsh of Alta, cancer survivor.
"Life is busy," she said - too busy to include cancer.
Walsh celebrated her 50th birthday in October 2008 and in December she went in for her annual exam. While cancer often comes unexpected, she never thought she would be one that would receive a "call back" saying there was something that needed to be checked out. An ultra sound and needle biopsy were done and even then she was sure that cancer wasn't going to invade her life.
It was two days before Christmas that she was sitting in the doctor's office, in the holly jolly holiday spirit wearing her reindeer antlers, waiting for results when a serious Dr. Schultz walked in.
"You don't look as happy as I do," she said to him.
He then told her she had cancer.
She went through a lumpectomy and then began chemo treatments.
It's a scary thing, she said, not knowing what to expect, but she quickly learned that the oncology nurses are a pretty special bunch of caretakers and that seeing and visiting with others going through cancer treatments helped get her through the situation.
"I made so many good friends," she said.
She added that her family and co-workers were also there for her.
As she lost her hair, she added wigs and hats to her wardrobe - a pink feather boa also brought smiles to her and others.
"There are many people going through this," she said to those that are still in treatment. I am sharing my strength. If I can pass that on to someone or if anyone wants to visit, I will do that."
Children touched by cancer paraded the track for one lap. Survivors were each recognized and shared how many years they had been cancer-free; all the way from six weeks to 45 years! The survivors then paraded the track in a special lap, joined by their caregivers.
Entertainment was provided through the evening by Black Tie Tunes (Garrett Halverson) and the luminary lighting ceremony took place at dark.
Coordinator Kelly Scott said a wrap up meeting of this year's event will be held within the next few weeks and planning for Relay for Life 2014 will begin shortly after.
"As a planning committee we have decisions to make and hopefully we can do a few things different to get more people involved, more teams and more money for next year," she said.
Anyone wishing to be a part of the Relay for Life committee may contact Scott at 730-1133.