Storms move Relay indoors
Celebrate. Remember. Fight back.
That was the reoccurring message of the 11th annual Relay for Life of Harrison County, held Friday night and Saturday morning at Corydon Central High School, which had a little different look this year than it has previously.
Due to inclement weather, festivities were moved indoors and that threw a kink in some of the plans.
‘We held off until after that first rain storm’ before making the decision to move the event inside, said Doug Robson, co-chairman of Relay for Life of Harrison County. ‘The second (storm) wasn’t all that bad. The third one looked like a pretty good storm, and we didn’t want to get anybody hurt.’
Instead of the event running through the night, Robson said they closed down for the night about 11 p.m., after the Luminary Ceremony, and re-started Saturday morning. ‘It was the first time we had to do an inside event,’ he said. ‘We knew it would happen some day, and that’s why we have it at (Corydon Central) High School.’
Instead of the athletic field and the high school track, the walk was held around the gym floor, the auction was held in the auditorium and the chicken dinners were served in the cafeteria.
Although an official head-count wasn’t taken as people walked in, Robson said it was still well attended.
‘It went pretty well,’ he said. ‘Several people were there.’
Robson acknowledged that rain might have kept some people away, but it didn’t stop a good crowd from attending Friday night, he said.
‘All the elements were there,’ he said, ‘just inside.’
The elements included the traditional Survivor Lap and Caregivers Lap, which were shortened to the distance around the gym. The Luminary Ceremony also had a shortened lap around the gym later that evening.
Robson said 32 to 35 teams participated in the event on Friday and the preliminary amount of money raised was just over $100,000. The auction, which included more than 130 items, raised $5,495 for the cause.
Stories of survival started as far back as last Tuesday, when the Corydon Rotary Club held a dinner honoring cancer survivors. Rotary president-elect Jeremy Kirkham said they had been planning the dinner for about a month and invited approximately 200 Harrison County cancer survivors. Seventy survivors responded.
‘We’re looking to keep doing this from here on out,’ Kirkham said.
Guest speakers at the dinner included the Rev. Greg Carter and Ashley Fancher, both cancer survivors.
On Friday evening, at least one survival story came from a caregiver.
Robin Bays spoke to the crowd right before the Luminary Ceremony about her daughter Maggie’s fight with Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the lymph nodes, calling it a snapshot in her daughter’s life.
‘Sixteen surgeries, 256 days in the hospital and she never wavered, never faltered, never cried,’ Bays said of her daughter.
On Friday, it had been 213 days since Maggie had her last stem-cell transplant. She has been cancer free now for seven months.
‘(Cancer was) just a snapshot in her life,’ her mother said. ‘It’s a snapshot in all our lives.’
Bays said she tries to live by advice her father, Art Stewart, gave her: ‘Just don’t get excited.’
‘Take it a day at a time, do what you have to do, know there’s a plan,’ she said.
After Bays’ speech, Dennis Thomas, the other Relay co-chair, presented the Susan Goldman Mental Attitude Award to Maggie Bays.
It’s survivors like Maggie Bays and Jennifer Smith, a previous award winner, who Tom Bowling really admires.
Despite being a two-time cancer survivor himself, first with melanoma eight years ago and most recently with prostate cancer four years ago, he doesn’t feel like he’s done anything compared to what they’ve had to do.
‘(They’re) the real heroes,’ Bowling said.
Still, he, along with his neighbor, G.C. Grayson, a fellow prostate cancer survivor, has been attending the Relay for Life the last few years to participate in the Survivor Walk and be among the faces of cancer survivors.
Bowling, 67, of Palmyra said he fought cancer with a few surgeries, not with radiation or chemotherapy, which he expects is a lot more harrowing than his ordeal. It also wasn’t a surprise to him to be diagnosed. In a family of nine brothers and a sister, five of the boys have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and two of them have succumbed to the disease. Bowling said he knew all about the procedures and the options, based on seeing his brothers go through the disease, so he knew what to expect.
‘We got some good genes and we got some bad genes,’ Bowling said, adding that his mother, who is now 96, is still alive.
He said his family, including his brothers, have a solid support system in place and he encourages his three sons to be active in their screenings for prostate cancer.
‘(They) need to have it once a year,’ he tells them. ‘If you don’t, you could wait too long.’
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