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Washington County Colleges hold Relay for Life at HCC

A larger event will be held later in the general community

April 23, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Christina Gibson, left, gives her mother Brucie Lindsey a hug and kiss as Lindsey makes her way around the track for the "survivors lap" at the Washington County Colleges Relay for Life held at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center. Lindsey is a cancer survivor since June of last year.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- First, the cancer survivors were asked to raise their hands.

Next, those whose mother or father had battled cancer. Then, those with grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, best friends, boyfriends or girlfriends affected by the disease.

"Now look around," organizing committee member Brittany Sines said as nearly every hand stretched upward in the group of more than 100 participants in Friday's Relay for Life of Washington County Colleges.

"This shows what we are fighting for tonight," Sines said. "I hope this memory keeps you strong all night."

The event at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center was a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Teams of students from local colleges attempted to keep at least one member of their team walking or running around the ARCC's indoor track at all times for 12 hours straight, from 7 p.m. Friday through 7 a.m. Saturday, while games, contests and raffles were held on and around the track.

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The event marked the first time a separate Relay for Life had been held for college students in Washington County, American Cancer Society Community Manager Cathy Thomas said. A larger Relay for Life for the general community is planned for June 18 and 19 at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.

Walkers at the event included students from HCC and Kaplan University.

Chris Motz, president of Kaplan University's Hagerstown campus, donned a "survivor" sash as he walked the first lap with other cancer survivors. Motz said he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997.

Motz said he was glad to see students from multiple area colleges come together in support of a cause.

"We've never done it before," he said.

Another survivor, 18-year-old Taryn Owens of Greencastle, Pa., spoke during an opening ceremony about how being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 13 set her emotions reeling, but ultimately made her a better writer and poet.

"One day I hope to be able to help other cancer survivors," she said.

In addition to celebrating survivors, the event also was an opportunity to educate participants about lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of cancer, such as avoiding tobacco products, practicing sun safety and eating a healthy diet, Thomas said.

The event attracted 112 participants on 15 teams, and before the event even began, almost $6,000 in donations had been collected, event chairwoman Michelle Thompson said. Organizers were expecting that total to increase with continued fundraising during the event and additional donations that had not been tallied Friday night.

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