'Cancer is not always a death sentence'

September 10, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER/Staff Correspondent

McCONNELLSBURG, PA. - "18 years, 7 months, and 4 days," Betty Shelley said with pride. A breast cancer survivor, Shelley laughed as she walked around the track of the Fulton County Relay For Life on Saturday. "This my payback for still being here."

Walking past the 275 luminarias purchased in honor or memory of loved ones with cancer, Shelley's tone became more somber.

"I do this for everyone," she said. "To tell those newly diagnosed that cancer is not always a death sentence."

Shelley was one of three co-chairs for the 2006 Fulton County Relay For Life presented by the American Cancer Society. This year marked the 11th Relay For Life in Fulton County. The event was held at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.

As participants gathered to walk, chat, and play games at the Marti Gras theme event, they also gathered to raise money for the American Cancer Society, while also offering respect to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.


Jane Boyce, a representative for the American Cancer Society, said Fulton County had raised almost $25,000 by noon on Saturday.

Stephanie Clevenger, co-chair for the event, added that the group continued to accept donations through the close of the Relay on Saturday.

One of largest fundraisers for the event is the sale of luminarias.

Purchased for any donation over $5, Fulton County sold 275 luminarias for the event.

The Percepta Gamma Pi chapter of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority hosted the luminaria service on Friday evening.

During the service, sorority members read each name as family members lit their luminarias.

Trudy Morton of McConnellsburg, purchased 27 luminarias in honor of her family.

"I bought for my father, brother and sister who have lung cancer," she said. "Also my brother with prostate cancer, my mom with colon cancer and my sister with lymphoma."

Clevenger counted 19 teams participating in the 2006 Relay, most of whom, she said, walk in the Relay for someone they know or love who has cancer.

Personally, Clevenger said she walks for her mother.

"My mother was a survivor for 14 years," she said. "When her cancer came back, it took her within two weeks."

Joyce Brennan, of McConnellsburg, said that everyone knows someone with cancer.

"Its seems that no family is untouched by cancer today," she said.

Harriet Keefer of Big Cove Tannery, Pa., and Emma Seville, of McConnellsburg, both workers at a local school, walked on Saturday for many people, including a young boy they know with cancer.

"There is this little boy we serve at school who has cancer," Keefer said. "He's in fourth grade."

Clevenger said the committee will begin planning the 2007 Relay For Life today.

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