Relay for Life pushes through rain
We haven't had a steady rain for a month and on the day of Relay for Life of Saline/Milan, it rains? What's up with that? Well, fortunately, as the American Cancer Society's Jason Keech said in a video interview with me earlier today at Wilson Park in Milan, "The rain can't dampen our spirits in the fight against cancer."
The American Cancer Society kicked off its annual local relay at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony in Wilson Park, followed by the survivors victory lap and celebration. I met a lot of strong and brave people at the event who touched me deeply. I snapped a photo of Mark and Nancy Massey of Azalia, donning rain gear and holding hands, as they completed their survivors lap in the rain. And right after them came Barb Latocki of Saline, who looked at peace clutching a carnation while waiting in line at the survivors breakfast. She is an 11-year cancer survivor and has participated in the local relay for seven years.
I sat under the tent as the rain came down to talk to some of these lucky souls. I know how lucky they're because I lost my husband to colon cancer four years ago. Ethel Fleszar of Milan shared her story on video with me. While she has participated in the Relay for Life for the last 10 years, this was her first year as a survivor after a breast cancer diagnosis. "I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of what's happening and there can be a cure," she told me was the reason she was there.
Jan Rice of Carleton, who retired from Ford Motor Co.'s Milan plant in 2004 and was diagnosed with cancer shortly after, was another survivor I met and admired for her dedication to the cause. She has been participating in the relay since 2001, and volunteers at other American Cancer Society events. Jan, who also spoke to me on video, is an advocate for early cancer detection. "I really press the issue of mammography (with my daughters) because they're over 40 now," she said. "All of my friends, I try to convince them to get checked."
I'll share more cancer survivor stories as part of an article I am writing this weekend about the Relay for Life. I'll return to the event at 4:30 p.m. for the Fight Back ceremony and 9 p.m. for the Luminaria before I put pen to paper. So, in addition to the three videos I've uploaded to our Web site already, I hope to have a couple more, as well as an article and photos for the newspapers.
If you read this today, I encourage you to stop by Wilson Park and show your support. There are a number of activities going on, from musical entertainment and a magician to themed laps. If you can't make it, I hope you can find it in your heart to donate. Visit www.cancer.org or contact ACS Associate Director Jason Keech at email@example.com.