Remembering, learning, and walking to raise funds to find the cure for cancer was the purpose of the 5th Relay For Life at Skyview High School last weekend.
"I would love to in my professional career be doing just immunizations for cancer instead of cancer treatment," said Kathy Lopeman, the Chairperson for the Relay for Life fundraiser for the fifth straight year. Lopeman, a licensed Oncologist at CPGH, has lost several family members to cancer and says the cause to find a cure is very important to her personally, she also has jumped in the Polar Bear Jump in Seward for the last six years to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. "Seeing the community and all these families out here coming together to raise funds and learn about cancer prevention has made the Relay a very inspiring event for me," added Lopeman, who said this may be her last year to chair the event.
The first lap of the Relay is traditionally the cancer survivors walk, and among the cheers this year, were the tears shed in memory of Dr. Tim Powers who was lost to cancer earlier this year. The opening ceremonies were dedicated to his life of service. While the 24-hour walk may occupy the center ring of the Relay, the event incorporates other side events of equal importance. The Smart-Shop tent featured an abundance of cancer prevention and early detection information, "We had a person come through the shop that through the information she received, went home and after looking at it went to her doctor and was early diagnosed and treated for cancer and probably saved her life," said Pamela Howard, Publicity Chair for the event. There were also local physicians who donated their time to answer cancer related questions and lectured through the night.
At 11:00pm, the luminaries were lit around the track and in the bleachers in memory of loved ones lost to cancer. This year, over 600 names were read over loud speakers as the walkers continued their trek through the cool night skies, "It's actually my favorite time to walk, with the luminaries lit, it's an emotional as well as a fun time to be walking," said Howard. There was concern this year that local economic factors might affect this year's fundraiser, but thus far, the event has garnered over $61,000 for cancer research and according to Kathy Ginsel, at Wells Fargo Bank, contributions are still coming in.
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