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Pa. Relay for Life raises $150,000

May 18, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The grounds around the Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.) High School football field resembled a campsite yesterday, with several recreational vehicles and tents set up. Several adults and children walked the quarter-mile track while others drank coffee and chatted under overcast skies.

All had come for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, held annually to raise funds for cancer research, education and patient services.

The Relay for Life raised $150,000.

The event was coordinated almost entirely by volunteers, said Cancer Control Specialist Connie Woodruff. About 50 teams solicited donations from sponsors before the event.

At least one person from each team had to be on the track from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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"Their spirits were not dampened" by the cool, rainy weather, Woodruff said.

Bud's Girls, a team of family and friends, raised $5,614. When the team was started, "it was all women except Bud, so we called it "Bud's Girls," team captain Bonnie Shepherd of Mercersburg said. "Now there are a few other guys."

Most have been deeply affected by cancer.

Team member Sabine Nave of Greencastle survived breast cancer five years ago. Her sister, Cindy Zeger, walked in her honor.

Bud Wolfe and his wife, Donna, of Greencastle raised Nave and Zeger and their two siblings after their mother died of cancer.

Shepherd, of Mercersburg, had a son-in-law who died of leukemia.

Bud's Girls have participated in Relay for Life for five years. This year, eight of the 15 team members camped in a large tent with two kerosene heaters.

"There are more people when the weather's nice, but we had fun," Shepherd said.

The highlight of the event for Shepherd was the luminaries. Friday evening, candles were lit "in honor of survivors and in memory of loved ones we've lost," Shepherd said.

The lights around the track are turned off and the candles are lit as each survivor's or deceased person's name is read.

"It gradually lights up. This is the purpose; this is what it's all about," Shepherd said. Luminaries on the bleachers spelled out "hope."

Various activities continued all night, including volleyball, sack races, midnight soccer and a water balloon toss.

Rocking chairs were provided so those physically unable to walk their complete track time could participate.

Several members of the Kauffman Ruritan Club team sat under a tent rocking Saturday afternoon. Team captain Wes Palmer of Waynesboro said he had been walking or rocking since 3:30 a.m. Cindy Custer of Kauffman rocked and walked four hours Friday evening and six hours Saturday.

Palmer said the team's efforts were in memory of Mary Zeger, a Ruritan Club volunteer who recently died of cancer. The team was also honoring two of its members, June Lehman, a six-year breast cancer survivor, and her daughter, Diann Hunsecker of Greencastle, who had surgery for a brain tumor in January.

Lehman and Hunsecker both said they are doing very well. They walked and rocked with the team.

World Kitchen received a traveling award as the business that raised the most money, - $48,000. World Kitchen Team 2 raised the most per capita with $1,047.

At the end of the 24 hours, five doves were released as a symbol of hope. Participants made a final half-lap and walked off the track to applause, many hugging and crying.

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