Friday evening’s beautiful weather gave fruit in the form of a successful Relay For Life event.
“The money is still coming in,” said Tiffany Neukomm, the county’s event co-chair person. So far, a total of $69,270 has been collected for this year’s Relay For Life of Iroquois County. Relay For Life collects money for the American Cancer Society for cancer research, education, advocacy and services. Last year, after all was said and done, more than $95,000 was raised in Iroquois County.
Lynda Guinnee, also a co-chair of the event, said, “This money helps for cancer research, Road to Recovery offering free rides to treatment, Reach to Recovery, Look Good ...Feel Better program, free wigs and scarves, 800# call-in center to answer any questions 24/7 365 days, advocacy for cancer, and other programs and research.”
The silent auction, basket raffle and cake walk helped take in monies, too. With sports as a theme, the Cubs and Sox faced off in racing around the track raising money in the two teams’ 10-minutes dash. In that 10 minutes alone, $326 was raised — $235 from Cubs fans there and $91 from Sox fans there.
The top fundraising teams are Team Buswell and Pennies From Heaven, running neck to neck having collected $11,635 and $11,330 respectively, and Hope with $8,734.
There were 22 teams participating in Friday’s Relay. This year’s teams were Team Buswell, Pennies from Heaven, Hope, Wolfies Walkers, Iroquois Federal Lifesavers, Survivors by Faith, Step by Step, Family Ties, First Trust, Farmers-Merchants Bank of Illinois, Lymph Nodes, Neukomm Family, Caramels For A Cure, Retired Teachers Fighting Cancer, First Financial Bank, Beauties and The Beast, Thrivent Financial Iroquois Co, RMC Cancer Fighters, Gibson Area Hospital, Fox Islanders, Lighthouse of Angels and Dale Jr’s Victory Ride.
This year Ford County merged its Relay with Iroquois County’s. Neukomm said last year the county had its own, but the money went to Iroquois County.
Karrie Redeker was the survivor speaker at the beginning of the evening.
Also speaking at the event were state representative Tom Bennett and Riverside oncologist Dr. Ahsan Basha.
The Megan Schippert sang the National Anthem.
There were several activities set up for children to take part in, too.
There were 65 people who attended the survivor/caregiver meal, served at 5 p.m. before the Relay event.
Survivors were celebrated. Those who lost their fight with cancer were remembered.
Carmie and Ted Spenn spoke at the Luminaria Ceremony. Each told their personal story as cancer survivors. Each taking turns reading the 447 names during the walk around the track in the darkness lit only by the glow of the Luminaria bags.
Relay For Life was founded by Dr. Gordy Klatt in Tacoma, Washington, in 1985. “It was the vision of one volunteer,” said Neukomm.
Bennett gave more of Klatt’s story. He said in Klatt’s 24 hour walk around the track he walked 83 mile and raised $27,000. At the end of the event there were 300 people joining him as volunteers themselves. “The idea grew from there.”
To date there has been $5 billion raised through Relay For Life events. Each year there are four million people taking part in 5,000 Relays in 20 different countries.
He said $308 million has been given to cancer patients to help them through different programs.
Since Relay began in 1985 there’s been a 30 percent drop in cancer, and there’s been an estimated 1.3 million lives saved.
Relay volunteers are “Compelled to make a difference and together we can,” said Neukomm. They are inspired by cancer survivors and the survivors’ caregivers.
“We can imagine a better outcome,” said Basha. People are individuals. Individuals, he said, form teams. Teams make up a community and a community becomes a movement.