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Teams gear up to fight cancer

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By Carrie Poe

“Relay means finding a cure and we can’t stop until we find one. We have to continue the fight and not give up,” said Judy Ruholl, the county co-chair of the Grant County Relay For Life. “This is one event where the community comes together and fellowship among each other about fighting for a cure.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. On May 29, 2009, families, friends, survivors, schools, businesses and anyone trying to make a difference in the fight against cancer will come together for 12 hours to camp out, walk for a cure and have fun participating in different events throughout the night at Grant County Park in Crittenden.

Ruholl has been involved with the event for 15 years after her dad lost his battle to cancer in 1994.

“My family decided we needed to do something, it was our way of dealing with what he went through,” said Ruholl. “I think when cancer touches you personally you tend to be more aware of things that are available.”

Preparations for Relay For Life are ongoing. The committee officially begins planning in August, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking about what they can do year round.

“If it is something your passionate about, something you really believe in, you are always thinking about it all the time,” said Ruholl.

Teams have been raising money for Relay For Life throughout the year with events like cookouts, auctions, yard sales, bake sales and more.

On the day of Relay, the committee starts to set up by 8 a.m., then teams will come throughout the day to set up their campsite. The kick-off begins at 7 p.m. with the opening ceremony and recognition of the survivors. “It’s all about the survivors,” said Ruholl.

The survivors will take the first lap then the teams will take their lap.

Some of the events that will take place at this years Relay For Life are a cake walk, a watermelon contest, hula hoop contest, dance contest, firefighters vs. police softball game, cloggers, a poster contest, an amazing makeover, “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader”, “The Newlywed Game”, GCHS speech and drama team, “orange” you glad you came to relay activity slated for 2 a.m., entertainment, live auction, silent auction and a pancake breakfast at 5 a.m. as well as many more.

The goal is to keep participants awake for the 12-hour event.

“Cancer does not sleep,” said Ruholl. “These people that are fighting cancer at 3 a.m. in the morning they can’t say get out of my body, I don’t want to have to deal with you anymore.”

The highlight of the night is the luminaria ceremony at 10 p.m. All the lights go out except for the flickers of the candles that line the path that are in honor of those who were lost to cancer and in memory of those battling cancer.

“To see the park with just candles flickering. It’s not just about a school vs. a school or a city vs. a city, we are all there for the same reason and all there to honor, recognize and remember,” said Ruholl. “It is so special because it is so quiet and emotional and that’s when it really hits home.”

Luminaria forms, in honor of someone battling cancer or in memory of someone who died from cancer, are available for $5 at the Grant County News office. They can also be found on page ?? inside this issue.

“If you have never been to a relay, you have to come just once, because it is amazing,” said Ruholl.

It’s not just for cancer patients and their families, the event is for the community. All activities are free.