Upshur Relay brings groups together to fight cancer

Cancer affects almost every life, whether your friend or family member has struggled against it, or you have experienced the battle first-hand. The theme for Friday’s Upshur County Relay for Life at the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School touches on that commonality. The theme is “Relay Family Reunion – a RELAYtion Celebration.”

“One of the impacts we’ve had is kind of a support for other people – survivors or those who have lost someone to cancer,” Crystal Shaw, a co-chair of the Upshur County Relay for Life, said, adding one goal is to let those who have been recently diagnosed with cancer know that they are not alone.

“There’s hope. When they see the survivors walk, you see how many people have survived cancer and there’s hope. We want to give people hope.”

For those who know someone who has been lost to cancer, Relay for Life is a time to honor that person’s memory.

“I always enjoy the opening ceremonies with all the survivors, and the candlelight ceremony at dark. Those are my favorite parts,” Shaw said.

The Relay also will be honoring a volunteer who passed away last year. Virginia Zirkle had volunteered for Relay since its start 16 years ago. Shaw said Zirkle had served on the committee in multiple capacities.

Beyond the remembrance of lost loved ones and the celebration of those who have survived, Relay for Life also is a time to learn about what options are available to those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“We’re hoping that it has a lasting impact on the community by educating people about cancer prevention and programs that the American Cancer Society has for patients,” Shaw said. “Our goal is to always educate the community on what’s available.”

Shaw said many new teams and committee members have joined the cause this year. Each participant sets goals to raise money that could impact people touched by cancer in all generations. The money raised helps fund research that may one day find a cure, Shaw said. The funds also support patient services.

Opening ceremonies are at 6:30 p.m., and survivors will take their traditional and symbolic first lap around the track at 7 p.m.

Participants also may register for free drawings of items donated by local businesses and Relay for Life teams. Items in the drawing include a flat screen television, $500 worth of groceries, one bike each for a boy and a girl under the age of 12, and a Wii console for a winner under the age of 18.

Children under 12 get a free hot dog and popsicle. Shaw said each camp site has a free drawing in addition to its fundraising item.

This year’s Relay will also features a rock climbing wall, games, music, entertainment, bounce house, a Buckhannon Volunteer Fire Department truck display and much more.

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