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In 21st year, Apollo Relay for Life continues fight against cancer

Chuck Biedka
| Saturday, June 11, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Jim Kelly, of Kiski Township, and Diana Baer, of Apollo, walk around the track at the Apollo Relay for Life at Apollo-Ridge High School in Kiski Township on Saturday, June 11, 2016.  Kelly is a 12-year skin cancer survivor.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Jim Kelly, of Kiski Township, and Diana Baer, of Apollo, walk around the track at the Apollo Relay for Life at Apollo-Ridge High School in Kiski Township on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Kelly is a 12-year skin cancer survivor.
Walkers pass a sign championing the success of the Apollo Relay for Life at Apollo-Ridge High School in Kiski Township on Saturday, June 11, 2016.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Walkers pass a sign championing the success of the Apollo Relay for Life at Apollo-Ridge High School in Kiski Township on Saturday, June 11, 2016.
Olive Kelly, left, and her husband, Jim, of Kiski Township, walk with friend Diana Baer, of Apollo, around the track at the Apollo Relay for Life at Apollo-Ridge High School in Kiski Township on Saturday, June 11, 2016.  Jim Kelly is a 12-year skin cancer survivor.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Olive Kelly, left, and her husband, Jim, of Kiski Township, walk with friend Diana Baer, of Apollo, around the track at the Apollo Relay for Life at Apollo-Ridge High School in Kiski Township on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Jim Kelly is a 12-year skin cancer survivor.

After raising millions of dollars to fight cancer, Relay for Life of Apollo was at it again Friday night and Saturday for the 21st time.

“We were the first in this area,” said Linda Shellhammer, captain of the Colors of Cancer team. “Everyone branched off from us.”

Jim Kelly, 87, of Maysville, near Avonmore, has plenty of reasons to participate in the hope that a cure can be found.

Kelly has survived skin cancer since it was removed from his face in 2004. The former Saltsburg grocery manager's wife died of brain cancer in 1992, and a daughter fell to breast cancer six years later.

The Korean War-era veteran was remembering them when he used a walker to complete his laps on the bright warm day.

“That's why I am walking for Colors of Cancer,” he said.

Organizer Donna Zukas was pleased with Relay for Life's 21th edition and other events so far.

“It's been a good year. The Riverview Relay at Oakmont last week collected about $70,000, and we just hit $3 million for the Apollo Relay,” said Zukas, who works for the American Cancer Society.

It's not all about money.

Cancer survivors are congratulated and get to talk about networks of family members and friends who helped them, dozens of walkers said.

Survivor Rebecca “Rheba” Henderson of Lower Burrell started treatment for ovarian cancer in 2014. Her family, friends and Apollo Trust co-workers have showered her with prayers, company and emotional support.

“I am very blessed,” she said, preparing for her second cancer-free anniversary on July 4.

“I went through chemotherapy, and when my husband had to go back to work, I never sat alone at home,” Henderson said. “I've had a wonderful support group.”

Jenny King of Oklahoma Borough is another 2-year survivor. Her breast cancer required surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, more chemo and reconstructive surgery.

“Now it's like a dream — like I never had it,” King said. “I am walking not for me but for my younger sister, Sue Joy DeVoe, who died from a rare form of cancer. She helped me through my cancer, and she fought one year. She was only 47. We are walking in her memory.

“It's all about Susan Joy DeVoe Charity.”

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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