Relay for Life waves goodbye to cancer


Dubois County’s Relay for Life will celebrate Saturday its 25th year of fighting cancer.

Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer and helping patients.

The event will take place at the outside track at Jasper Middle School from noon to midnight. The day will feature an opening ceremony, survivor and caregiver walk, luminaria ceremony and closing ceremony.

A luncheon will be held before the relay from 11 a.m. to noon. Lapel pins, sashes and gift bags will be awarded to survivors and caregivers.

“They’re our all-stars,” said Brad Scales, event organizer and community development manager at the American Cancer Society. “This is just our way of fighting back against cancer.”

Over 100 participants have registered already and people can register on the day of the event.

Many game booths will run simultaneously with the relay, including mini golf, aqua boat racing, pingpong, inflatable shark wrestling and a flamingo toss. There will also be a hula hoop and paper airplane competition. Thirty volunteers from the ACS will helping with the relay and games.

The overall theme of the relay is “Hello Summer, Goodbye Cancer.” A number of themed laps will also be incorporated into the relay, including a superhero-themed lap. There will also be a survivor lap.
The opening ceremony will honor those affected by cancer as well as people who contributed to the relay.

Luminarias will also be lit for everyone who has been touched by cancer, whether it be a life taken by cancer, a survivor or support for someone still fighting the disease.

“It’s a special moment,” Scales said. “It’s really the highlight of the event.”

In the closing ceremony, participants will commit to take action and help lead the effort to free the world of cancer. They will celebrate what they have accomplished and unify for work that needs to be done going forward.

The Relay for Life began in 1985 when Dr. Gordon Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, to raise money for the American Cancer Society, the second largest cancer research funder. Klatt, who died from heart failure in 2014 at the age of 71, ran more than 83.6 miles and raised about $27,000 through pledges to help save lives affected by cancer.

Klatt envisioned having teams participate in a 24-hour fundraising event. By the next year, 19 teams participated in the first Relay for Life event at Stadium Bowl in Tacoma and raised $33,000. Relay for Life now hosts over 2,500 relays across the country.

The fundraising goal for the Dubois County Relay for Life is $65,000. They have raised over $30,000 to date. The relay raised $60,000 in 2018.

All of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, with 28% funding cancer research and 52% funding other programs and services, such as rides to treatment and places to stay.

“This is really a nice way to let people be aware of how cancer impacts our society,” said Sharon Gunselman, a survivor of ovarian and breast cancer who has attended Dubois County’s Relay for Life since it began in 1994.

The Jasper woman became a member of the ACS seven years ago to help with fundraising efforts. She said the ACS has been wonderful in supporting her recovery.

“They were there for me anytime I needed them,” she said. “I could contact them and they would put my mind at ease.”

Gunselman’s favorite part of the event is the survivor lap.

“It’s a special moment when you have people walking with you and supporting you,” she said.

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