Working to 'lei' cancer to rest in Washington County

Planning for Relay for Life under way

Planning for Relay for Life under way

January 28, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

MAUGANSVILLE - At 25 years old, Laura Brown wasn't expecting to hear the words, "You have cancer."

That was 10 years ago.

Since then, the Hagerstown resident has heard other, better words.

"Will you marry me?"

"You're going to have triplets."

And, "You're a 10-year survivor of colon cancer."

Brown was one of about 60 people who helped kick off the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life of Washington County on Sunday.

Like many, Brown said her motivation to participate in the fundraising event is to raise money and also to help educate people about the importance of early detection.


This year's local Relay for Life will be held in June. Last year, 367 participants helped raise more than $101,500.

The goal for this year is $110,000, according to Cathy Beckley-Thomas, community manager for the American Cancer Society. This year's theme is a luau, and Sunday's event was decorated with palm trees and leis.

"I just feel it's important to bring awareness and education," said Brown, who also is a Relay for Life committee member.

Event co-chairman Tom Sweeney Jr. said that fighting back against cancer is a "year-round battle."

Sweeney said he first started participating in Relay For Life to remember his grandmother, Loretta Sweeney, who died of cancer. After his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, he said he also is participating to "fight back."

Brown said one of the missions of Relay for Life is education, and part of the money raised also goes toward that cause.

At Sunday's event she urged those who attended to have regular screenings and said that "early detection is the key."

If her colon cancer would have been detected just three weeks later, Brown said doctors believed she would not have survived.

On Sunday, attendees saw a video about Relay for Life, and also a preview of this year's luminarias.

Event co-chair Keith Grossnickle, said that Washington County will rival a community in Texas who built the largest luminaria during last year's event at about 7 feet tall.

He said local volunteers were going to top that this year.

"We're going to build the world's largest luminaria," Grossnickle said.

If you go...

What:  The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Washington County

When: 7 p.m. June 20 to 8 a.m. June 21

Where: Hagerstown Fairgrounds

Details: For more information, go to

What: The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Washington County

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