Twins among more than 1,000 participants at this year's Relay for Life in Martinsburg, W.Va.

June 04, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • The Spring Mills Middle School "Spring for a Cure" team was among the nearly 110 teams that participated in this year's Relay for Life at Martinsburg (W.Va.) High School. Pictured, from left, are school librarian Cindy Woods, twins Whitney and Caroline Cunningham, and guidance counselor Jan Smith.
By Richard F. Belisle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Twins Whitney and Carolina Cunningham led their "Spring for a Cure" team at this year's Relay for Life.

The twins participated in the relay in honor of their grandmother, Mary Alice Kisner, a cancer survivor since 2004.

Kisner, 66, and her husband, Victor, were among more than 1,000 people marching around the track at Martinsburg High School in this weekend's relay, which is a fundraiser for cancer research.

Last year's event netted more than $300,000, said Barbara Henry, community manager for the American Cancer Society of Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

The relay began Saturday at noon. By 1:30 p.m., Henry said she had more than $250,000 in pledges.

"These people, (the walkers) are unbelievable," she said. "A tremendous number of teams are raising more than $1,000. One raised $15,000. I hope to top what we made last year by tonight."

The relay ends today at 6 a.m.

Rules require that the nearly 110 teams that signed up to participate have a member on the track at all times.

Teams are fielded by area churches, civic groups, neighborhoods, businesses, families and all 28 Berkeley County schools, Henry said.

"Families are a big part of it," she said. Family members walk in honor of loved ones who survived the dreaded disease or succumbed to it.

This year's relay is dedicated to Henry's husband, Sonny Henry, who died of cancer Oct. 1.

She has been involved with the Martinsburg relay for 12 years, she said.

The 13-year-old Cunningham twins' team, Spring Mills Middle School, included school librarian Cindy Woods and guidance counselor Jan Smith.

Woods walked in memory of her father, James Boyd of Gerrardstown, W.Va., who died from cancer in 2000.

Smith participated in honor of her husband, Les Smith, a counselor at Musselman High School and a 12-year cancer survivor.

The Spring Mills team raised more than $5,000, mostly from students who held an earlier relay at their school, Woods said.

Jo Anne Greene of Martinsburg was slowly making her way around the track pushing a walker. She was honoring the memory of her aunt, Nell Shroades of Martinsburg.

A trio of young teens was carrying the banner in front of their team, the Awesome Pavement Pounders. They seemed oblivious to Saturday's heat.

Tyler Kuiken, 13; Robert Ridenour, 14; and Emily Curtis, 13, said their team raised more than $1,500 in its fight against cancer.

The back of a green T-shirt worn by a volunteer summarized the effort of all who walked the track this weekend: "Cancer started the fight, but we will finish it."

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