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McKeesport Relay's goal $84,000 for American Cancer Society

| Saturday, July 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

McKeesport Relay For Life organizers are putting the finishing touches on plans for the annual Mon Valley event in the fight against cancer.

Committees met at Twin Oaks Lounge in White Oak on Thursday night.

The 24-hour community and volunteer-based fundraising event benefiting the American Cancer Society runs from 10 a.m. on Aug. 10 to 10 a.m. on Aug. 11. This year marks the 19th anniversary of the relay at McKeesport Area High School along Eden Park Boulevard.

Relay has taken place at the high school since its beginnings.

“They're very accommodating to our event. They're very gracious,” Relay co-chair Paul Ruhl said of the school district.

Tents will be set up around 8 a.m. and laps begin at 10. An official opening ceremony is scheduled for noon.

“We wanted more people to be involved,” Ruhl said about the later kickoff. “This is another way for the community to be present.”

The day continues with tent judging, live entertainment and music, games, a Miss Relay pageant, fire trucks and various activities.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths will be cutting and collecting hair to make wigs for women battling cancer.

Caregivers, survivors and others will discuss various cancer-related issues in a segment called Coffee & Conversation on Aug. 10 from 1-3 p.m.

Topics include early detection, nutrition, look good/feel good, stress reduction and the legal/financial considerations.

Relay also features fun-filled laps such as the purple passion lap where people will wear purple from head to toe, an umbrella lap, a line dancing lap and a zombie/thriller lap.

The track will be cleared around 9:30 p.m. for a luminaria ceremony.

A cancer victim who spent years participating in Relay will be honored at an empty table during the ceremony.

Maureen Stettmier of North Versailles Township lost her battle with cancer earlier this year. Stettmeir's family continues her efforts by keeping her Relay team “Maureen's Lucky Leprechauns” ready to walk.

“She was a fighter for one thing,” Ruhl said. “I remember she was in the McKeesport Christmas parade. She was handing out candy canes during her chemo battle. Last year she came to the Relay. She couldn't walk because of how weak she was, but she was pushed around by her sister-in-law in a wheelchair during the survivor lap. She didn't give up, and that's what we're trying to instill in these events. We provide hope to the community.”

Ruhl's co-chair is Joi Goffus.

Ruhl said he has helped lead Relay for the past four years for “just the reward of giving back.”

“I'm doing it for the people who have cancer,” Ruhl said. “I have family members who have passed away from cancer, so that's my energy to try and make a difference and find a cure.”

This year's theme is “Traveling Toward a Cure.” Teams will have travel-related booths and activities.

Relay raised $86,000 last year. This year's goal is $84,000.

“We lost some teams so we adjusted for that, hoping to beat it though,” Ruhl said about the goal.

Approximately $46,000 was raised by Thursday.

Ruhl said 223 participants in 23 teams already signed up, and there is still time to be a part of Relay.

More information about the event is available online at

More information about the American Cancer Society is available online at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or