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2012 'Magic of Relay' raises nearly $30,000 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Friday night, Aug. 24 was filled with magic as community members walked the track, celebrated with cancer survivors and raised funds for the American Cancer Society at the 2012 Phillips County Relay For Life.

The 12-hour “Magic of Relay” event kicked off at Phillips County Courthouse in Holyoke at 7 p.m. Friday evening, concluding at 7 a.m. Saturday morning with all those brave souls who stayed the entire night.

Cancer survivor Clark Starkebaum and his pal enjoy their time during opening ceremony activities Friday night.  
—Photography By C Lee

Last weekend’s event was the finale to one year of hard work raising money, which will go to cancer research. This year, Phillips County raised nearly $30,000.

Emcees Marcia Dalton and Marcus Kammer welcomed survivors, team members, volunteers and guests to the 11th annual Phillips County Relay, thanking them for their involvement.

Committee members, including co-chairs Sharon Greenman and Sherry Mari, were acknowledged for their dedication to the event. Mel and Betty Ocken were also recognized for their vision at the inaugural 2002 Relay For Life in the county.

Youngsters had a fun time Friday night, Aug. 24 at the annual Phillips County Relay For Life held at Phillips County Courthouse. Special guest Cooper Ballesterros, at right, is joined by some buddies for a photo op during dinner.  —Photography By C Lee

Special guest Cooper Ballesterros definitely captured the hearts of everyone in attendance. This 3-year-old cancer survivor from Plainview, Texas gave people a different view of what it means to be a survivor.

Ballesterros’ mom, Julie Ritter (niece of Holyoke’s Sheila Robinson), and his stepdad, Brett Ritter, were there to explain just what the journey has been like since their son was diagnosed with rhabdoid sarcoma in June 2011.

Special guest Cooper Ballesterros, center, is joined by his parents, Brett and Julie Ritter shortly after Julie gave a touching recap of Cooper’s struggle with cancer. The 3-year-old youngster has been cancer free since August 2011.

—Photography By C Lee

Relay For Life is a chance to celebrate with cancer survivors as well as remember those who have lost the battle.

Cancer survivors and their caregivers started off the Relay, making their way around the track in a “Victory Lap.” Leading the way was survivor Donna Lutze with granddaughter Janessa Lutze and survivor Bonnie Smith.

Cancer survivor Donna Lutze, at left, is joined by her granddaughter Janessa Lutze and cancer survivor Bonnie Smith as banner carriers during the survivor lap Friday night, Aug. 24 during the 11th annual Phillips County Relay For Life.  —Photography By C Lee

Later in the evening, the track was lit with dozens of luminaria, a way for participants to remember those affected by cancer. Names were read in memory of those lost to5cancer and in honor of cancer survivors, followed by a silent memory lap.

Hundreds of luminaria circled the block around Phillips County Courthouse
Friday night, Aug. 24. The luminaria were in memory or honor of those
affected by cancer and glowed throughout the night.

—Photography By C Lee

Fifteen teams camped out at the courthouse, making hundreds of laps around the track and taking advantage of a variety of activities to get them through the wee morning hours. A community supper and breakfast kept participants fed and ready to go.

Koby Way won the Mr. Relay contest, collecting the most money for the Sole Sisters team while dressed up like a girl, complete with a blonde wig and girly clothes.

Betty and Paul Wickenkamp proudly begin walking around Phillips County Courthouse Friday night. Paul was in for the long haul and was seen walking much of the 12 hours.

—Photography By C Lee

Relay Idol awards were earned by the musical talents of Grace Gibson and the brother/sister duo of Matt and Andrea Wilcox.

Top honors in the midnight chili cookoff went to Chris Lee, who raised nearly $100 for his Justice League team.

Local music groups and vocalists entertained walkers throughout the evening.

Bev Atkins helped entertain the crowd with two moving songs Friday night, Aug. 24.

—Photography By C Lee

Teams competed in some intense Minute to Win It games and a frozen T-shirt contest. Individual campsites also had activities and fundraisers during the event.

Taking this year’s team award for top fundraising per capita was Grainland, with a total of $5,203.36.

Best parade entry went to Sole Sisters with their tie dye shirts and afro wigs. Flower Garden and their Smurf idea won best campsite. Most team spirit went to the boxing girls, Team Barnburners.

As of the end of Relay, Phillips County raised a preliminary total of $29,495.

Numerous cancer survivors turned out Friday-Saturday, Aug. 24-25 for the annual Relay For Life event held at Phillips County Courthouse. Each survivor received a purple shirt which they proudly wore throughout the evening.

—Photography By C Lee

Preliminary team totals from the 2012 Relay For Life are as follows:

Bank of Colorado, $3,000.63; First Pioneer National Bank, Waddling for a Cure, $1,500; Flower Garden, $3,306.30; Gano Café, $205.01; Grainland, $5,203.36; Haxtun Lions Club, $1,545.03; Justice League, $1,400.

Melissa Memorial Hospital Foundation, $870; Melissa Memorial Hospital Staff, $525; PC Telcom, $1,210; Seaboard Foods, $1,713.50; Sole Sisters, $2,270.75; Team Barnburners, $2,649.25; Team Cooper, $83.01; Viaero, Major Rockstarz, $384.04.

Holyoke Enterprise August 30, 2012