The 2007 Brown County Relay for Life may be different from its predecessors.
Organizers were crossing their fingers Friday, as Relay activities got under way at Gordon Wood Stadium, that this year’s effort would again be record-breaking in the funds raised for the American Cancer Society. And there were other changes too, tweaks here, additions there, said co-chair Tammy Robinson.
But no matter what else has changed in the annual all-night relay, the main thing remained — well — the main thing.
And Friday, the main thing was all about celebrating life and raising money that can go toward the research for finding a cure for cancer; and all about honoring those who survived the disease; about remembering those who did not; and it’s all about helping one another make another lap, and reaching another milestone.
“How many participants are there this year?” Robinson asked rhetorically. “Well, we’re waiting on the final numbers, but I think we’ve got more than other years.
“We have 41 teams, most teams have 15 members. Add the care givers and survivors, then add the 25 committee members, add the walk-ins and you’ve got a lot of people out here involved, committed,” Robinson said.
The 2006 Relay raised more than $70,000, and Robinson said all indications are that when the money is counted for the 2007, effort that record will be broken.
In the category of new and different, the honorary chairs — 12-year-old Trevor Cook and Nancy King — were flown in on an Air Evac helicopter.
“I’d never been on a helicopter, it was exciting,” said King. “It was great.”
For Trevor, this helicopter ride was a little less traumatic than the one he took as a 4-year-old after a malignant mass was discovered in his lung and he was care-flighted to Cook Children’s Medical Center. Trevor’s cancer, Pulmonary Blastoma, has been in remission since 2002, but his mother, Kendra Cook, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that same year. Kendra Cook died May 25, 2002.
King is in remission, “five years out this time,” she said. In 1990 her doctor discovered a tumor on her right salivary gland that was removed in a tedious six-hour surgery. The cancer recurred in 2000, and a third time in 2002. The chance was great, King said, that the surgeries would have paralyzed her face, but each time she came through.
“God has blessed me,” King said.
“Cancer is scary. The first time I was mortified because I was scared to death. The second time? I never believed it could come back, but it did.
“How do you get through? You have faith and you keep on going.”
King hugged Babs Shields, also wearing a purple survivor’s shirt, and the ladies smiled.
“You keep on going,” they said together.