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Relayers defeat storm at cancer fundraiser

June 09, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Hundreds of people outlasted a lightning storm Friday night for a chance to take on one of the nation's top killers - cancer.

A soaking rain forced Relay for Life participants to huddle in their vehicles at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park for at least an hour.

But when the storm let up, volunteers and participants emerged and began catching up on the many hours of activities that lay ahead.

Relay for Life, held in communities around the world, is an overnight walk to raise money for cancer research.

"We've funded 40 Nobel Prize winners," said Keith Grossnickle, the volunteer chair for Washington County's version.

The goal for the county's Relay for Life was to raise $100,000, but that seemed lofty once the bad weather hit.

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Otherwise, Grossnickle was excited about the relay switching from its old site at South Hagerstown High School to its spacious new home at the park.

"This is awesome," Grossnickle said. "We see the possibilities of our event expanding."

Thirty-one teams signed up to walk along as Friday turned into Saturday. Grossnickle said about 350 people were participating.

One team was "Moms R Us," a group of 21 walkers, plus husbands and children as morale boosters.

Team organizers Laura Brown and Nicky Draheim, both of Hagerstown, set up a campsite in the theme of Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" as part of a decorating contest. They had a section of fake beach and palm trees, along with coconut bras, ready for use.

Another campsite put up drawings of characters from the "Peanuts" comic strip. One used references to National Lampoon's "Vacation," the 1983 comedy starring Chevy Chase.

Comic touches couldn't erase the seriousness of the disease that linked all of the participants.

Brown said she is celebrating 9 1/2 years of remission for her cancer.

Draheim said her mother, Joyce Monnett, died of cancer three years ago.

"I don't think anybody can say they haven't been affected," Angela Chase of Hagerstown said as she scanned a long line of luminarias soon to be lighted.

She said her "other half" has had two forms of cancer, her stepmother died of it and her grandfather is fighting it.

Chase formed a relay team called "Twigg Cycle Riders Club."

"My dad died last year," said Melody Brown of Hagerstown, part of the Twigg team. "It just hits everybody."

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