PARKERSBURG - More than 100 teams were on hand Friday for the opening night of the 18th annual Relay for Life of Wood County at Parkersburg City Park.
Carmen Hathaway, community manager for the American Cancer Society, said 122 teams were at the park.
"We had 1,500 signed up and overall I think we have 2,800 on hand," she said. "We have 122 teams and 41 of them are here for the first time."
The West Virginians from Alderson-Broaddus College at Wood County Relay for Life 2011.
Grand marshal for the survivors' parade was Hailley Parsons, a 10-year-old from Mineral Wells. On Sept. 7, 2010 the fourth-grade students from Mineral Wells Elementary School was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor.
She has gone through six rounds of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation treatment. She is the daughter of Sean and Lisa Parsons of Mineral Wells.
When asked about her reaction to being named the grand marshal of the survivors' parade, Hailley said "it's cool."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Sarah Rudolph, left, pours sand in a luminaria bag placed along the City Park Pond by Andrew Miser.
One team that has been part of the relay for the past seven years is Hope and Faith.
Carla Rippeto said the team was walking this year in memory of Ken Cheuvront, who died from esophageal cancer shortly after last year's relay
"He died June 9," she said. "There is so much emphasis on breast cancer so our shirts are designed to show it can affect many people, brothers, brothers-in-law and fathers."
Virginia Peterson, of the team for Pete's Sake, said this was their 13th year in the Relay for Life.
"We are here in memory of Pete Corra, who died from cancer 13 years ago after battling cancer for two years," she said. "We have 20 members of our team that includes family, friends and caregivers from the hospital who remember him."
Peterson said the team raised $8,400 for the cause in 2011.
Emily Null said the first-time team Faith Princesses had 10 members in the relay. She said the team led by 14-year-old Allison Lowe, of Parkersburg, started with seven members and grew to 10 by Friday night.
Null, who is a teacher to Allison and the other members at Parkersburg Catholic High School, said they raised abut $200 in their first relay.
Chris Campbell was part of the team walking in memory of Cody Campbell, his son, who died Dec. 28, 1998 when he was 3 years old.
Campbell said the 12 members of the team are family members.
"We've been in the relay almost every year," he said. "Last year we helped out a team from Mineral Wells but we're back this year."
Relay for Life began in Washington state in 1984 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Wash., colorectal surgeon, decided to hold a fundraiser at Baker Stadium on the campus of the University of Puget Sound.
Klatt spent 24 hours walking and running at the track, while friends and family members donated $25 to walk or run with him for 30 minutes during that time. In 24 hours, Klatt raised $27,000. In the years since, money raised by others just as dedicated to eradicating cancer have raised millions.