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Relay for Life celebrates cancer survivors

April 17, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- A piece of blue tape on Krystyna Smith's wrist was the only sign that the smiling, dancing girl has spent her entire life battling cancer.

At age 6, she is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

"Krystyna represents why we absolutely cannot stop fighting for a cure," Holly Morgan Frye said.

For eight years, Frye has organized a Relay for Life at Shepherd University.

On Friday at 4:30 p.m., she and her army of student volunteers kicked off this year's celebration of cancer survivors.

Shepherd's Relay for Life has grown exponentially in its short history, Frye said.

The first year, participants raised $5,000, she said.

"We thought we conquered the world that night," she said.

Frye said the goal Friday was to raise $80,000.

Relay for Life at Shepherd is the largest university relay in the state of West Virginia, said Barbara Henry, American Cancer Society community manager.

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"The students never cease to amaze me," Frye said.

"Their vision is incredible," Henry said.

Carrie Saunders, Jerica Hewett, Melissa Furr and Shelby Fayak of the relay team "Shepherd Women's Basketball" all had at least one grandparent who had the disease.

"It's a scary thing," Saunders said. "So the more money raised gives us more money for research to save more lives."

Many survivors have touched Frye's life, but the reason she stretches herself thin to put on the massive event is because she, like millions of Relay participants worldwide, dreams of a world without cancer.

"My motivation is to eradicate this world of cancer, so my children can grow up and not fear this disease," she said.

Krystyna's mother, Bobbie Smith of Grasonville, Md., said she tattooed her daughter's name on her arm to have something permanent that could not be taken away from her by cancer.

As of 10:30 p.m. the relay had raised $54,000.

Rain delayed the start of the event, which was to continue until 6:30 this morning.

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