Rally held for upcoming Relay for Life 2004

May 11, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

The Washington County Chapter of the American Cancer Society held a rally Saturday, May 8, to raise awareness for the upcoming Washington County Relay for Life 2004. From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown came alive with magic shows, balloon animals, karaoke and summer concession fare.

But the event was more than just fun and games.

Dee Surrena, 40, chairwoman of the rally, offered information regarding formation of teams to participate in the Relay for Life 2004 event, which will take place Friday, June 18, at the South Hagerstown High School track.

Surrena said anyone - people from businesses, clubs, families, friends, churches, schools - can form teams. Each team needs to have 10 to 15 members and is asked to raise at least $1,000.


Nikki Bell, 11, who attended the rally, has been part of a Relay for Life team every year since she was 7. She said she has lost members of her own family to cancer.

"My grandma and grandpa both had cancer, so I support them," Bell said.

Relay for Life is a community gathering. Surrena said cancer survivors, families and caretakers are invited to mix and mingle on the evening of the event at 6 p.m. at the Survivor Reception. The opening ceremony will begin at 7 p.m., then walkers will take to the track. At least one person from each team will remain on the track at all times until the closing ceremony at 9 a.m. the following morning, signifying the idea that cancer never sleeps.

Surrena said last year's event raised about $42,000. This year's goal is $80,000.

Mary Ryan, 38, a cancer survivor, initially inspired Surrena to form a team of employees from Target, where both women are employed.

Ryan said she was diagnosed with skin melanoma during 2001. Doctors performed surgery on her lower left leg, removing a 2-inch diameter piece of skin down to her muscle and replacing it with skin grafts. Ryan said, she continues to receive follow-up care.

This year, Ryan said she will participate in the Relay for Life event herself, along with her team of co-workers.

Participants at Saturday's rally made donations to have luminarias lighted at Relay for Life 2004 in honor and in memory of loved ones with cancer. The luminarias will be lighted at sundown, symbolizing the hope and perseverance with which patients who have cancer continue to fight.

Those who attended the rally also added their names on paper links to a Chain of Hope. Cancer survivors, volunteers and people who donate to Relay for Life 2004 will continue to add links. Surrena said the Relay for Life committee hopes the Chain of Hope will grow large enough to encircle the South Hagers-town High School track during the Relay for Life event.

Brandie Triesh, 22, said she brought her four children out for the rally to support the American Cancer Society and to have a little fun.

During 1999 - when Triesh already had a son and was pregnant with twin daughters - she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She received treatment, following which doctors discovered abnormal cells again. Triesh said she was treated again, and has been fine since 2001.

Last year, while she was pregnant with her fourth child - a son - Triesh said she walked in the Relay for Life.

"I'll be out there again this year," she said.

As the American Cancer Society's signature fund-raiser, Relay for Life generates funds for programs and services, including research, cancer information hot lines, advocacy for cancer-related public policy issues and practical assistance for cancer patients.

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