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A little rain didn’t bother 5th annual Relay for Life

A little rain didn’t bother 5th annual Relay for Life
A little rain didn’t bother 5th annual Relay for Life
Roger Beard and Judy Chism blow Q-tips through straws at Scott Shake's tape-wrapped body at Friday night's Q-tip darts game at the annual Harrison County Relay for Life event. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Forty-one teams collected $80,000 for the American Cancer Society during the fifth annual Harrison County Relay for Life.
‘We still have some money coming in,’ said Dennis Thomas, who chaired this year’s event. It took place from 6 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday at the Corydon Central High School Athletic Field.
Thomas said anyone who hasn’t had made a contribution but would like to do so can send their money (check or money order) to Carol Branham at the Corydon branch of Bank One.
Rain moved into the area soon after the Relay started. The theme this year was ‘Footprints of Freedom.’
‘We had just gotten the Survivor Lap in’ when the shower hit, Thomas said.
Each Relay for Life begins with cancer survivors taking a joyful lap around the track. On the second lap, they are joined by caregivers. After that, team members take turns making laps until the Relay ends the next day at noon.
As an added bonus this year, Corydon Central’s FFA chapter ‘rented’ animals that participants could take around the track with them. They carried puppies, baby goats and chicks and raised about $300.
The rain moved out and gave the luminary bags time to dry almost completely. Thomas said the bags had been set around the track and on the visitors’ side bleachers to spell ‘HOPE.’
‘Most of the candles burned throughout the night’ once they were lit during the 9:30 p.m. luminary ceremony.
This year’s guest speaker was Kent Watson of Corydon, who was diagnosed last year with a very rare case of angiosarcoma.
‘You’re too nice, you’re too nice,’ Watson said as the applause subsided after he was introduced. He thanked everyone for their support by attending the ceremony.
‘Cancer can attack anybody at anytime,’ he said.
He shared his initial feeling of devastation after the diagnosis, but soon realized he ‘had to be strong for my family.’
The 1981 graduate of Corydon Central High School and his wife, Sherry, have two sons, Jordan and Peyton. (Sherry also has two grown children from a previous marriage.)
‘Having cancer is as tough on family members as it was on me,’ Kent Watson said. ‘They saw me at my lowest.’
He praised three physicians ‘ Reggie Lyell of Corydon, Renato LaRocca and Robert Benjamin ‘ whom he credited with keeping him alive.
‘I believe I wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for them,’ Watson said.
Reading books by other cancer survivors helped him deal with his ordeal. The first book was ‘My Yesterday Could Be … Your Tomorrow’ by the Rev. Greg Carter of Laconia. Carter and the other authors were a ‘great inspiration,’ he said.
(Carter’s book is being reprinted with a different publisher. The new title is ‘Survivor.’)

In the past year, Watson said he has learned four important things:
* Don’t take life or people for granted.
* Live each day to the fullest.
* Tell somebody, especially family and friends, you love them every day.
And perhaps most importantly, he said,
* Never give up.
Watson concluded with a quote by the late Jimmy Valvano, who coached the North Carolina State University men’s basketball team to an NCAA championship in 1983.
‘Cancer can take away all my physical abilities but it cannot touch my heart, my soul or my mind.’
Valvano died April 28, 1993, from metastatic cancer.
Thomas said Monday, ‘I thought (Watson’s) talk was really good. He shared his heartbreak and positiveness.’
Prior to Watson’s testimony, Colleen Merk presented a $500 check to the Relay from the Corydon Central High School girls basketball team.
Thomas said 2003 Relay commemorative ornaments are still available for $25 each. Jeff Adams etched the plum-colored glass ornaments with the words ‘Relay for Life 2003 Harrison County.’ To purchase a Limited First Edition ornament, call Thomas as 738-2198.
This year’s top individual collector was Sue Wenning. She turned in about $4,200.
First Harrison Bank was the top team, with about $12,500 in donations.
Despite the rain and the Relay falling on the same weekend as the 50th annual WHAS Crusade for Children event, Thomas was pleased with the outcome.
‘We were able to manage,’ he said. ‘CCHS was really good to work with. (CCHS athletic director) Tom Preston let us have anything we wanted.’
The shelterhouse, which was added to the athletic field complex late last summer, came in handy.
‘It’s a good thing we had that,’ Thomas said. The auction was held there, keeping the donated items ‘ and many of the participants ‘ dry.
Simon Cowell wasn’t at the Relay, but the Rev. Webster Oglesby of Corydon was named ‘Relay Idol’ during a competition based on the popular television show ‘American Idol.’
Thomas said they will evaluate this year’s Relay and plan next year’s. The 2004 Relay will probably be held June 4 and 5.
‘We would like to recruit more committee members,’ Thomas said. ‘We would like to get more people involved.’
Anyone interested should contact Thomas at 738-2198 or Sarah Turpin at 738-2137.