(06/27/2005)

Dozens of Calhoun residents came to light candles
in remembrance of those claimed by cancer

While Relay for Life is a somber affair, remembering those who fought and lost the battle against the dread disease, it is also a celebration of life for those who went into remission.

Even more importantly, it is a vision of conquering the disease, a disease that has affected most every family in Calhoun County.

Relay is a hopeful and joyous event.

It was a reality driven home a few years ago with the patching of names and remembrances in a number of cancer quilts.

If you attend a Relay event in Calhoun, you'll see lots of your neighbors and friends who have been directly affected by cancer, many of them who have treated the disease and survived.

To say the least, it is a moving experience when they come forward to light luminaries while the names of hundreds of citizens are read over a PA system.

It is a moving experience to watch the walk itself, an endless array of walkers to keep the relay going throughout the evening and night.

One cannot help remember some of those walkers from past relays, many very elderly citizens, who have gone on, and others who eventually lost their battle with the disease. Elva Yoak made it every year, walking the track, until she passed on.

Walkers keep the relay going throughout the event ...

... while teams display their fund raising techniques

Relay groups do specialty foods to please the crowd

Groups and individuals were booked an hour at a time during the event

Relay is a testament of how one person can make a difference.

Nowhere is that more evident than with the story of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, which began in Tacoma, Washington.

In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something. He enjoyed—running marathons.

In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.

From there the "Relay for Life" idea blossomed and spread across the USA.


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