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Marie Boone, left, and Donna Schmidt, members of the North Harrison Elementary School team, participate in the “Walk Like an Egyptian” theme lap Friday night at the Harrison County Relay For Life. Photos by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)

'Worldly' Relay raises $84,000

June 17, 2009 | 08:34 AM

Twenty-six teams went around the world Friday night and Saturday morning to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

While the teams didn't leave the Corydon Central High School Athletic Complex during the fundraiser, they did decorate their booths to represent the country they had drawn.

Relay co-chair Dennis Thomas said approximately $84,000 was collected at this year's Relay.

Dennis Thomas, who has chaired or co-chaired Harrison County’s Relay For Life the past nine years, receives a hug from Relay committee member Kim Frederick Friday night as Thomas is honored for years of volunteer work. With them is Doug Robson, who has co-chaired the last few years with Thomas (click for larger version)
"We were down some, considering the economic times," Thomas said. "While we were down, that's just that much money we didn't have."

Since Harrison County began the Relay For Life event 12 years ago, volunteers have raised $960,000. While most of the money comes from donations, some of it comes from chicken dinners and the annual auction, which this year raised about $4,900.

One change this year was the Luminary Ceremony. Instead of reading the lengthy list of names of those who have succumbed to cancer, committee members opted to set up a memorial tent. Persons were welcome to read the names as posted on the inside of the tent and they could create their own luminary candle.

Thomas said the committee had planned to make this change last year, but inclement weather forced the Relay to be held indoors, eliminating booths and tents.

Speakers at this year's Luminary Ceremony are testimony that cancer knows no age limits.

Hannah Richardson, the youngest of the three speakers, was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 13. She is now 15 and will be a junior at Corydon Central High School.

Doctors discovered the cancer after Hannah had "a fever that wouldn't go down," she said.

She missed about four weeks of school.

"Without God and my parents' support, I know I would not have made it," she said.

Josey Kintner, the guest speaker at the '07 Relay, is now 19 and a sophomore at Indiana University Southeast. She said cancer has made her a stronger person.

"Cancer does affect everyone no matter who you are," she said.

Also returning to speak was Ashley Fancher, last year's speaker. She is a sophomore at Evangel University. In 2004, she thought she had torn her ACL, but doctors diagnosed her with osteosarcoma, the most common type of malignant bone cancer.

She said that while life often deals devastating blows, they can be overcome by being positive and putting one's mind to it that everything will be OK.

Fancher said she supports Relay For Life because it "raises money for technology and advances."

Awards this year were given as follows:

Best Campsite — Cancer Case Divas (Jodi Windell team captain)

Most Enthusiastic — Friends For Life (Marie Boone team captain)

Most E-mails sent — Y We Care team, 544 (Robin Bays team captain)

Most Money Raised Online — St. Joseph School, $435 (Lisa Watson team captain)

School that raised the most money — North Harrison High School, $5,600 (Amber Sater organizer)

Team that raised the most money — First Harrison Bank, $16,000

Thomas was also honored for "his timeless effort" given to the Relay the past nine years as either chair or co-chair. He is stepping down from a leadership role but plans to remain involved in Relay.

"Dennis was really my mentor," Doug Robson, Relay co-chair, said. "He's the one who got me started in Relay."

Thomas said Monday that he's made numerous friends through his involvement.

"It's been fun," he said.

While next year's Relay dates are not yet confirmed, Thomas said it's never too early to get involved. For information about how to participate, contact Robson at 738-7736 or Aaron Smith at 738-2198.

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