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Relay For Life kickoff held

By JENNIFER PERYAM - jperyam@h-ponline.com

The numbers are sobering. There will be an estimated 1,735,350 new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,640 cancer deaths in the United States in 2018 according to the American Cancer Society. Local residents are out to do what they can to reduce those numbers.

Huntington County Relay For Life held its Kickoff Meeting Thursday night at Evangelical United Methodist Church to release details about this year’s relay. The proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society to assist with cancer services and research.

This year’s relay is set for June 9 from noon to midnight at Kreigbaum Field. The Theme is Rockin’ Round The Clock For Relay.

Thursday night, relay leadership team members were dressed in 50s attire, wearing poodle skirts and scarfs. They sang a song, “Walkin’ Round The Clock,” to the approximately 60 people who attended the kickoff event.

There were purple and white balloons throughout the church. The tables were decorated with old vinyl records and cardboard musical notes.

Mark and Vickie Kiefer are the event chairs for the second year in a row.

Mark said there are 18 teams registered so far. The goal is 35 teams. The fundraising goal is $53,000. The event raised $50,410 last year with 33 teams.

This year’s event will have different music genres such as jazz, pop, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Mark is a 12-year prostate cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2006.

“ACS provided funds to help purchase machines that removed my prostate,” Mark said.

Sally Keyser, 50, who is in charge of the survivor’s dinner this year, is a breast cancer survivor. She wore a pink poodle skirt to celebrate the theme for relay.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

“I was sent to the imaging center in Fort Wayne. I had an ultra sound and biopsy done, and was told I had stage three breast cancer,” Keyser said.

She said her best friend had gone through ovarian cancer a year prior so she knew what would happen. Two weeks later, Keyser had a mastecomy. She did seven rounds of chemotherapy and experienced 30 sessions of radiation.

“I have been a part of Relay For Life since 2006. We had a team at Bendix where I worked,” Keyser said. She co-captained the team in 2016 and has been captain of the team ever since.

Loretta Barton attended the kickoff to get more information about the team she will be on with Parkview Health.

“The relay spreads awareness about cancer. They do a lot of good things to help,” Barton said.

She said she lost her husband John to multiple myeloma cancer in 2014. He was diagnosed in August 2014, and died in September of that year.

“It is important to raise funds for ACS to help with research and the 24-hour assistance line to help those who have cancer,” Barton said.

There were snacks for attendees and door prizes such as ACS pens, cups and water bottles that were given away to those whose names were drawn.

To register a team for the relay visit www.relayforlife.org/huntingtoncountyin.