BELPRE - Warm weather and clear skies welcomed the celebrations of the Relay for Life of Washington County in Belpre's Civitan Park on Friday.
"I'm very proud of our event," said Teri Magers, chair for the event. "There is no amount too small to help save lives."
The all-night event at Belpre Civitan Park raised more than $131,000 before the 7 p.m. opening ceremonies with the total to rise as the roughly 65 teams collected funds by selling food and games.
Team members play cornhole at the Relay for Life of Washington County in Belpre’s Civitan Park on Fr
The event began at 4 p.m. and survivors were welcomed with the Survivors Dinner at 5 p.m. The Relay officially began at 7:30 p.m. with the "Victory Lap" for cancer survivors, followed by a lap with survivors and their caregivers and the teams then began their circuits.
The leader of the first lap was Ava Nichols, 5, of Waterford, who was helped by her mother Traci Nichols as she walked under the flower-covered arbor behind the Fort Frye High School Marching Band. Nichols is battling an inoperable, malignant tumor in her brain stem.
"It's extremely special to be part of this," said Bob Crock of Marietta. "It's touching the support you get from the community and it all culminates here, with the Relay."
Photo by Jolene Craig
Ava Nichols, 5, of Waterford leads the survivors’ walk with her mother Traci Nichols at the annual Relay for Life of Washington County kick-off celebration Friday in Belpre’s Civitan Park. Nichols is battling an inoperable, malignant tumor in her brain stem.
Crock is the father of Bridget Crock, 4, who has been cancer-free for two years after receiving treatment for lung cancer.
Stephanie Keating of Columbus attended the event for the first time in support of her friend Rachel Greenwalt of Belpre, who is living with stage 4 appendix cancer that has spread through her abdomen.
"I've never been to the Belpre relay and I'm surprised there are so many people here," Keating said. "It's wonderful that so many people are supporting cancer survivors through this."
The Washington County Relay for Life kicked off with warm weather and clear skies in Belpre's Civitan Park on Friday.
More than 150 survivors with their families and friends attended the overnight event where food and games aided the 65 teams in raising money for the American Cancer Society.
As of the opening ceremonies on Friday evening, the event had raised more than $131,000 for cancer research.
Magers said that there are so many people who support the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life events because everyone knows someone that has had cancer.
"It's very hard to find a person in the valley who has not been touched by it," she said. "I got into this because I wanted to make a difference."
This weekend event is only one part of a year-long effort to raise money that enables the American Cancer Society to continue the fight against cancer through research, education, advocacy and patient services. Some of the participants were family, friends and neighbors who have dealt with cancer themselves.
"It's everybody working together and together for one purpose," Magers said.
The Relay continued through the night and into today's morning hours. It is scheduled to end at 11:45 a.m. today with closing ceremonies at Civitan Park.