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Cancer survivors celebrating, raising funds

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

The local effort to raise funds to find a cure for cancer is underway with Saturday being the highlight.

Fayette County’s Way to the Cure “Research” is Saturday from 6-9 p.m. in Roberts Park. Formerly known as Relay for Life, the effort continues to raise money for the American Cancer Society to fund research, education and helping ease the burden on those currently fighting the disease.

Bertie McKenna and Yvonne Smith are leading the effort, as they have for several years.

With sponsorships and other fundraisers during the year, nearly $15,000 has been raised so far, McKenna said. 

“It’s hard to come by, this money, but we’re doing it for research,” McKenna said. “That’s why I do this. My uncle in Michigan had colon cancer when I was young. That was my first experience with cancer and I lost a brother who died of apnea as a result of radiation to treat the cancer.”

The Survivors Celebration on Saturday will kick off activities.

Participating cancer survivors should first go to the Park Road shelter house to check in, if they are able, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Those who cannot get to the shelter house may go to the John Miller Community Center, where dinner starts at 6 p.m. 

The opening ceremony will include a prayer, a word from Mayor Harold Gordon and the national anthem sung by Stan Howard.

The Connersville High School volleyball team will serve dinner. Food is donated by the community, she said.  

There will not be a speaker. Cancer survivors will give their names, what type of cancer they had and how long they have been a survivor, she said. 

The event no longer includes a track with people walking all night. There will be a smaller walk after dinner for survivors who are able. Balloons will be released. 

For those who cannot walk, two rocking chairs will be available.

Joann Borders will have members of her gymnastics class give a demonstration. David Pollard will provide music for the event.

The climax is the luminary ceremony.

Luminaries will be placed along Park Road, McKenna said. They will have the names of those who have died from cancer and in honor of survivors. Pollard will read those names beginning at 9 p.m. 

Donations can be accepted for this year’s effort through the end of August, McKenna said. 

Several other activities have helped raise money for the American Cancer Society’s research funding. Last September, organizer Rich Young invited her to be a vendor at the Rodfather’s car show on Labor Day weekend, earning nearly $250 selling hotdogs. 

Young will have an auction with proceeds going to Way to the Cure at this year’s car show that will go towards the 2019 effort. Last year, the auction brought in $1,800 for the The “Stick a Fork in Cancer” dining events with four local restaurants giving a portion of their proceeds resulted in nearly $800 being raised for ACS. Next year, she said, more restaurants are interested in participating.

Proceeds from the mudfest that is scheduled for Aug. 25 will go to the ACS. McKenna will be at the Aug. 11 Alquina All-School Reunion to accept donations as well.

Money turn-in tonight

Today at 6 p.m. is Bank Night at the Red Cross Building in Roberts Park. Money raised and luminary bags sold by volunteers for Fayette County’s Way to the Cure “Research” can be turned in there, said Bertie McKenna, co-chair. 

Luminary bags are being sold for $5 and can be in memory of someone who fought cancer and in honor of those still fighting or who have defeated the disease. 

Diane Washam of Natco Credit Union will be at Bank Night to receive the funds.