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Cancer survivors take laps in Relay for Life

About 150 cancer survivors were on hand for the opening ceremony of the 24-hour event that has raised more than $1 million to fi

About 150 cancer survivors were on hand for the opening ceremony of the 24-hour event that has raised more than $1 million to fi

May 20, 2006|by DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Ten years ago, Sue Easterday joined the annual Greencastle Relay for Life "because everyone said it was fun."

"The following year I actually walked as a survivor" of breast cancer, the Hagerstown woman said Friday afternoon as she stood near Greencastle-Antrim High School's Kaley Field track.

Approximately 150 other cancer survivors joined Easterday for the opening ceremony for the 12th annual Relay for Life, a 24-hour event that has raised more than $1 million to fight cancer, said Janet Stevens, the office manager for the American Cancer Society in Chambersburg, Pa.

The goal this year is $180,000, and $115,000 already had been collected through pledges and fundraisers before the event began at 4 p.m., co-chairwoman Darlene Higgins said.

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"We're going to make it," co-chairwoman Ruth Knepper said.

Raffles of quilts, crafts and theme baskets also are being held, along with Friday night's Miss Rally Contest, where cross-dressing men were to collect cash from spectators for the right to wear the winner's tiara.

At 6 p.m. the survivors and their caregivers took to the track for a lap, but the 754 walkers on 61 teams will rack up a few thousand more before the event finishes this afternoon, Knepper said.

Easterday was walking with the Regency Sunshine Gang, one of five teams Regency Thermographers of Waynesboro, Pa., fielded, she said. Her gang raised $8,519.35, said Easterday, a team captain for seven of her 10 years in the relay.

Taking a brisk turn around the track on a brisk May day, Jennifer Brunner and Lisa Lushbaugh of the Teacher Trekkers were about halfway through the three miles they planned to walk. Brunner estimated the team of Greencastle-Antrim Primary School teachers raised about $1,000.

Brunner said her students and other classes also chipped in with donations.

"We're just a group of people who have had cancer in their families," said Bonnie Shepherd, one of Bud's Girls, a group of 15 walkers ages 2 to 69 that raised $13,000 through sandwich and bracelet sales. That was about twice the previous year's figure, she said.

"The girls just worked harder this year," said Bud Wolfe, who was flipping burgers on a grill. The team came prepared, with a sleeping tent and an eating tent for members.

"We like to honor the ones we have and memorialize the ones we've lost" to cancer by taking part, Shepherd said.

The event raises money for programs such as Hope Lodge in Hummelstown, Pa., where patients and caregivers stay free of charge in a homelike atmosphere while receiving treatment at Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, said Deb Beard, whose husband, Paul, died in April.

"It's the most wonderful place for cancer patients," she said.

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