Relay for Life team walking trail

ELKINS – A local Relay for Life team is raising funds for the fight against cancer by taking unusual steps – 25 miles worth.

Team Full of Hope members will gather in Parsons this evening to begin walking the Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail all the way to Elkins to take part in the 2014 Randolph County Relay for Life event Saturday.

Relay for Life organizer Judy Ritchie said when the Relay began, it was a 24-hour event.

“Over the years, many events were cut to 12 hours and overnights were dropped,” Ritchie said. “This group is taking on the original meaning of the overnight walk. Even in the darkest hours, our survivors may feel like they want to quit fighting, but they can’t. They must endure the darkness and fatigue to reach the dawn of recovery.”

Team Full of Hope member Mary Kniffen hopes the trek will help raise funds and promote awareness of cancer and the Relay for Life.

“The first year I participated in Relay for Life, I walked 100 laps, which was 25 miles,” Kniffen said. “This is my fourth year.”

Kniffen said she, her friend, Chrys Simons, and 18 others will make the journey from Parsons to Elkins.

“Everyone has their own story about cancer and how it has touched their lives,” Kniffen said. “That why they Relay. Everything you do to help puts us one step closer to a cure. My goal is to raise $2,000 by getting sponsors for the walk.”

Kniffen said she walks because she had a niece from Florida who received a diagnosis of melanoma at age 24.

“She died in less than six months from her diagnosis,” Kniffen said. “The following month, my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer.”

Kniffen said she considers Relay for Life team members as family.

“We walk to represent those who cannot walk, for those who are no longer with us and for hope for those who will be diagnosed in the future,” Kniffen said. “I would like to encourage folks to come down and participate in the Randolph County Relay for Life. Cancer doesn’t sleep and so we will not either as we make our way from Parsons to Elkins.”

The walk from Parsons to the Elkins Town Square is approximately 25 miles, and the weather prediction for Saturday is for sunny skies.

Ritchie said parking for the Randolph County Relay for Life is available in the city of Elkins parking lot beside Swecko’s, at Elkins Physical Therapy Center and in the Railyard grass area on the Wilson Hill side. Handicap parking is available in the Davis Trust Company employee parking area.

“We ask that you do not park in the American Mountain Theater or Train Trip parking areas,” Ritchie said.

For more information about Relay For Life or the American Cancer Society, check out or