Hundreds participate in Relay for life in East Huntingdon

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

“I do this for my mother who survived cancer,” said Christie Dyer of Yukon, who participated in the annual Relay for Life held Saturday at the Regional Family YMCA in East Huntingdon.

Dyer was a member of the team Angels of Hope.

“I like doing this and helping. It's important,” she said.

Dyer's story was a common one among the hundreds of participants, most of whom took part in the event because either they, a family member or a friend had been lost to cancer or been affected by the illness in some way.

“I lost my mother last year to cancer,” said Dana DiBasilio, a member of Panucci's Promise, a team that has participated for five years. “We have so many family members who have suffered with cancer. This is a good event, and it helps.”

The intermittent rain showers did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds that shared the same goal — to fight for a cancer-free world.

“No one ever wants to hear those words, ‘You have cancer,'” said Rachel Davis, Relay for Life event director. “This event brings us all together with one common goal — to one day have a cancer-free world.”

Thirty teams took part in the 22-hour event that began at noon Saturday and concluded at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society for research and education.

“This was a great event,” said Dawn Keefer, American Cancer Society income development manager. “The gross amount raised to date is $128,000, and that is wonderful.”

Teams can continue to raise money through August, then the final totals will be tallied.

“Our gross goal is $138,000, and to have $128,000 already is great,” Keefer said. “We lost a few of our stronger teams this year, but we also welcomed several new teams, and everyone has done just an amazing job.”

Many of the teams at the event held different fundraisers throughout the 22 hours. Keefer said several did really well in their efforts.

“These teams are incredible,” Keefer said. “Some of these teams raised $1,500 during the event.”

Many teams took advantage of the theme ‘Rodeo of Hope,' incorporating the theme into their camp sites as well as into their fundraising efforts.

Cameron's Angels, which is the first-place team in overall fundraising with more than $11,000, set up a jail in which selected inmates sat out a designated time until they could raise the needed funds to be released.

“This has been going great,” said Marvin Coffman, who acted as sheriff. “It's been really popular.”

Several sites held basket raffles, offered games, sold Chinese lanterns that were released into the sky and even offered the public a chance to kiss the “Stanley Cup,” a cup passed along to a winning Relay for Life team.

“I think everyone stepped it up this year,” Keefer said. “The threat of rain may have kept our numbers down a little, but overall, this was a great success.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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