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RELAY FOR LIFE: ‘Carnival’ relays to find a cure

May 29, 2012

COLUMBIA CITY — “Carnival” and “cancer” are not words traditionally linked together in the same sentence, but when it comes to Whitley County’s Relay for Life, a carnival is exactly what participants will experience.
This year’s relay theme is “Carnival for a Cure.”
Complete with celebrations and theme laps, the 24-hour event raises funds for the American Cancer Society (ACS). It will be at Indiana Springs Middle School this Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3.
Melissa Stephens is a community representative for the American Cancer Society and the staff partner for the Relay For Life of Whitley County.
“We are really making huge strides in growth this year, so I am really excited about how our event will turn out,” says Stephens.
Kathy Greenwalt, an employee of Parkview Whitley Hospital, is the food chairperson for Relay for Life.
“As for Parkview, I am an employee and Parkview Whitley supports what I do (with the event). Parkview has always supported the event, Relay for Life, with teams raising money and with donations of products needed for the events success,”said Greenwalt.
It is a personal battle with cancer that inspires Greenwalt to volunteer her time to the event.
“I took on the challenge of food chair due to a personal fight with cancer along with my brother who lost the battle. I was left feeling helpless and unable to due anything about it. The opportunity came across when ACS was looking for a food chair person. I had found a way to fight back and honor my brother’s memory,” Greenwalt said.
“The community has been wonderful making donations of food to feed the participants in the event. Along with food donations, my staff will be in the background helping in the production of meals.”
Greenwalt said, “I find it an honor to serve our community along with the support of Parkview. How can I put a price on generosity of skill, donation, and dedication. If I must, it would be priceless.”
Tamara Carroll, the events chair person, and List Stoll, the co-chair person, are putting final plans in place for the event this weekend.
Stoll has been involved with the relay for 12 years, this being her fourth year on the committee. She is a two-time cancer survivor and 10 years ago she lost her father to cancer.
“I was very blessed that I didn’t have to go through the hardships that people go through. I caught my cancer early. The fact is, you’ve got cancer cells. I was scared, but to hear you have cancer and have the doctor get up and walk out of the room; what do you do? You sit there alone.
“We want you to know that there is support. We want to honor your fear and your battle. We want to make sure you celebrate a birthday next year and keep celebrating. You have fought the biggest battle of your life and we want you to know that we are hear for you and want to support you,” said Stoll.
Carroll attributes her emotional healing to the relay.
After losing her grandfather to cancer, the relay event helped her move past the pain of her loss.
“My grandfather died in 1991 and I wasn’t even able to talk about him or speak his name without crying. Lisa (Stoll) asked me to help her. When I went out there it helped me. It is because of relay that I can talk about him and what he went through and what we went through as a family. It has helped me the most because I was always so angry. Angry because he was so very important to me and I lost him and even through I was almost an adult I was like a child. It helped me to heal and not be helpless. I can make a difference and raise money and do something,”said Carroll.
This year there are some new additions to the event. The children’s tent will feature carnival style games that the kids can play for a dime.
There will be clowns, balloons and a caricature artist.
The adults can enjoy various entertainment including the Red Hat Strutters who will perform at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
A very special addition to the weekend will take place during the hour set aside to honor survivors and their caregivers.
“The survivor lap will be at 5 p.m. It is different this year. We’ve added an extra event to commemorate the caregivers who lost their survivor. We hope to have a balloon release. We want to make sure those caregivers know that they have not been forgotten,” said Stoll.
Stoll and Carroll want the community to attend the event, regardless if they are a part of a team or not.
The funds that come from the relay, stay in Whitley County. The money helps support needed programs in the community.
Some of the programs directly affected by the relay are “Road to Recovery,”designed to help patients with transportation to doctors’ appointments and “Look Better, Feel Better” as well as mentoring programs.
The relay event is Saturday and Sunday at Indian Springs Middle School from 9 a.m to 9 a.m.
To Stoll and Carroll, Relay for Life is not just something to do, but its a passion.
Stoll said, “I do believe there is a cure. We just have to fight to get it. Its not just raising money but its fighting legislature and government to get the funding we need and that is what we do through ACS.”
There is no entry fee to walk, but a free will donation is welcomed. “Relay for life is one day, one night, one community, one fight. As a community we need to bind together to fight for a cure for cancer. That is why we do this. It is a fight,”said Stoll. For more information about Whitley County’s event or Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org.

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