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Walkers use the Force at Relay for Life

June 25, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - You might say the Force was with Dennis Carmickle.

Dressed as Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi, Carmickle was one of the hundreds of people who participated Friday night in Jefferson County's Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society fundraiser.

Carmickle is a seven-year survivor of Hodgkin's disease.

He and other participants in the Relay for Life were scheduled to spend the night at Jefferson High School's football field/track complex. At least one member of each of the around 30 participating teams had to walk on the track at all times until the walk's planned end today at 8 a.m., said Daniel Hart, board president of the Jefferson County chapter of the American Cancer Society.

This was the second year cancer survivor Ginger Gillum has participated in the event.

"We'll keep walking until everyone is a survivor," said Gillum, who had cervical cancer 13 years ago.

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Walking all night can be an exhausting, but worthwhile experience, Gillum said.

"You're tired by the end of it, but that's nothing compared to what the (cancer) survivors are going through," she said.

Monica Kamer, a nurse at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., lost her son to cancer 15 years ago. Billy Kamer was 19 years old when he died of sarcoma.

Kamer said as a mother and a nurse, it was overwhelming.

"We're taught we could save everybody, and you can't even save your own child," she said.

Kamer said she was impressed with this year's turnout. The first year, there were about five tents on the football field and only a few thousand dollars was raised, she said.

Jamison Reynolds, community manager for the South Atlantic division of the American Cancer Society, said the goal for this year's Jefferson County Relay for Life was to raise $44,000 for cancer research.

He expected the final total of money raised to be at least double that, and possibly exceed $100,000.

Hart's first wife died of cancer six years ago, and his current wife's first husband died of cancer two months later. Both surviving spouses now are active with the American Cancer Society.

Hart called Relay for Life the organization's most important event, saying it brings the community together and offers opportunities for fellowship and camaraderie.

"It is a war against cancer," Hart said. "We're like brothers and sisters against it."

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