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Mt. Pleasant Relay for Life deemed big success

| Saturday, July 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Cancer survivors Joann Maholtz of Mt. Pleasant, David Mardis of Ruffsdale and Peggy Rose of Tarrs take part in the survivors walk.
Fundraising was a big part of the event and team Cameron’s Angles set up a “jail” were prisoners had to come up with funds to be released. Sheriff Marvin Coffman goes through his warrants as he waits for more prisoners.
Participants collected one bead for every lap walked as Jacob Reitler, 6, and Kennedy Scarry, 16, of Connellsville add one more to their string.
Air lanterns were also sold and Gary Workman of team Panucci’s Promise releases one to demonstrate.

When the final lap was taken and the last tent torn down, the organizers of the annual Mt. Pleasant Relay for Life could proudly claim that the 22-hour event benefiting the American Cancer Society was a great success.

“This was a great year,” American Cancer Society Income Development Manager Dawn Keefer said. “These people all did a wonderful job.”

The event and the fundraisers held throughout the year raised $128,000. Teams can continue to collect money through the end of August.

“We won't know the total amount raised until everything is turned in,” Keefer said, adding that the objective for the year was $138,000. “I think there is a good chance they will make their goal.”

The event featured 30 teams from all over the area who came together for the special event that is held for awareness, support and acknowledgment.

Contests and games were held and fundraising continued in earnest as the hundreds who camped out on the Regional Family YMCA grounds all worked together for their single purpose: raising money and hope for those with cancer, those who survived cancer and families of all who are touched by the disease.

Every year, one lap is dedicated to cancer survivors. The survivors, wearing purple shirts, hit the track with caregivers, family members and supporters.

“I had attended before as a spectator, but this year I walked,” Lorrie Hunker of Scottdale said of the survivor lap. “I was overwhelmed by the support shown by everyone. It was truly amazing.”

About 150 survivors took to the track with dozens of supporters as they made their way around to applause and cheers.

Those survivors who registered ahead of time received a special T-shirt and were treated to a catered dinner courtesy of Longhorn Steak House, but some came just to walk.

“This was amazing,” cancer survivor Kathy Hines of Greensburg said. “These people are like a big, warm blanket who want to surround you and protect you.”

Hines said she was not sure whether she was ready for the relay. She came at the last minute to walk the survivor lap.

“I'm glad I decided to come, and I will be here next year.” Hines said.

Joann Maholtz of Mt. Pleasant was also a survivor who participated in the special lap, and she too was impressed by the event.

“This gives people hope,” Maholtz said of the event. “I think it's wonderful, and the money raised here really does go to help survivors. They helped me with cost for my wigs and gas for transportation. It's wonderful.”

Motivational speaker and cancer survivor Glenn Brooks of Voices of Hope spoke to the group at the relay, telling of his experience and triumphs.

“Those of you in purple shirts have heard the words ‘You have cancer,' and you don't expect that,” Brooks said. “You don't survive cancer by yourself. You need help. You are surrounded by millions and millions of people around the world that relay without even knowing it. You are loved. Enjoy yourself today and celebrate. Celebrate the fact that we all beat cancer.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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