“To most people, a birthday just means getting another year older. To a survivor, hearing Happy Birthday is another victory because they are still alive.”
These words kicked off the Survivor Ceremony during the annual Relay for Life, a 12-hour charity event held April 14 in the Ryder Center.
Although the total is still being calculated, Jon Ward, chair for this year’s Relay for Life, said that nearly $40,000 was raised for the event.
During the survivor ceremony, Wayne Cormier, a survivor of throat cancer, spoke about his personal battle.
Admitted to the hospital, Wayne was inspired by a high school girl who had been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer to keep up his personal fight.
42 radiation and seven chemo treatments later, Cormier is now two-years cancer free and despite losing his sense of smell and taste to the disease, he remains committed to finding a cure.
“Until we get rid of cancer, we have to keep fighting,” he said. “One day, one hour, one minute at a time, the fight must carry on.”
More than 1000 people attended this year’s Relay. The event had enough pre-registered teams to be considered by the organization as a Pacesetter event.
It was also recognized by the American Cancer Society as a Cancer Action Network Club event.
67 teams offered their time and effort to raise money by having booths set up around the track that offered food or games. The fraternity Phi Kappa Tau created a mini golf course students could play for a donation, while another fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, had donation jars for its members whose total would have to be met by said member at the end of the night or his head would be shaved.
Held at midnight, the luminaria ceremony was a break from the fundraising to reflect on those currently battling or have lost the battle to cancer.
Before the night’s festivities resumed, participants walked around the track where signs had been put up by friends and family members with names of people who had passed away from cancer.
Ward said there is still time to fundraise to meet this year’s goal of $55,000. Donations can be made online or dropped off at the American Cancer Society office in Essexville. The deadline is set for August.