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Grundy County Relay for Life recognizes survivors, supporters

Published: Monday, June 2, 2014 8:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 9:14 p.m. CDT
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(George Lamboley for Shaw Media)
Rick Gaska, event chairman, kicks off the 2014 Relay For Life with the "Survivors Lap." The event highlighted cancer survivors and caregivers while raising money and purveying an open dialogue about the issue. "We're really appreciative of the weather and meeting the goals we set," Gaska said.
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(George Lamboley for Shaw Media)
Matt and Mallory Cryder walk a lap at Morris Community High School Saturday as part of 2014 Relay For Life ceremony.
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(George Lamboley for Shaw Media)
Lily Best blows a bubble during an activity at the 2014 Relay For Life held at Morris Community High School Saturday. Those in attendance walked and ran the school's track as a sign of solidarity and remembrance for those affected by cancer.
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(George Lamboley for Shaw Media)
Audrey Claypool runs on the Morris Community High School track during the 2014 Relay For Life ceremony Saturday. Claypool participated along with her brother Blake in honor of her aunt who suffered from colon cancer.

MORRIS – Marilyn Clubb has lived the relay that is cancer.

Clubb, of Morris, has experienced what many fear, having lost years of her life, as well as those near and dear to her, to fighting cancer.

“It’s important to stay positive,” Clubb said. “I like Relay For Life because it gives people an opportunity to make new friends and give support to those who are suffering from cancer at the moment. We make new friends every year and it feels good to accomplish that while contributing to such a worthy cause.”

Clubb is a part of the Relay For Life team “Morris High School Class of 1964,” which raises money and gets others involved in the annual festivities. The small group uses its connections within the community to raise awareness and money through their different fundraising endeavors over the course of the year.

Sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s accompanied the 2014 installment of Relay For Life, held Saturday at Morris Community High School.

“It’s really uplifting,” Clubb said. “We get to see our friends and get others involved in our fight against cancer while raising money for a worthy cause.”

Clubb’s team raises thousands of dollars annually through bake sales, Pampered Chef parties and the sale of luminaries, which light the late hours of the Relay For Life ceremonies.

“We try to raise as much as we possibly can without help,” Clubb said. “Every year, things get a little better for us and we try to pass that on to the organization.”

The many activities put on at the event reflected the different ways in which cancer can affect those afflicted.

“We want everyone to come out, have fun and leave a little more aware of just how much cancer affects the people around us,” said Shawn Minuth, survivor and Relay For Life participant. “There’s a lot of people out there who feel alone after their diagnosis. We want to make sure people have a family that they can lean on or look to for support.”

Participants consistently circled the school’s track, boosting morale and displaying the support of those in attendance. Walkers and runners enjoyed different themed hours throughout the day and were kept interested and entertained by the fun and often comical ideas that tied to the fight against cancer and awareness of the different forms of the disease.

“By walking the track, you are united with thousands across the country who have decided to take a stand and fight against cancer,” said Frank Ryle, logistics coordinator for the event.

Those involved circled the school’s track for more than 12 hours, enjoying the fellowship offered by those in attendance. The hours marked different themes and ideas, keeping walkers informed and mindful of the different ways cancer affects people.

Bubble blowing, a scavenger hunt, bingo and poker were among the several themes and activities that coincided with the laps around the track. The planned activities kept those in attendance enthusiastic while entertaining the children taking part in festivities.

A catered dinner was provided for survivors and caregivers, illustrating the respect and appreciation that is felt for those who have dealt with the adversity that cancer can bring to individuals.

“The survivor supper is a small token of gratitude that we offer toward people who have lived with the major burden that sickness can bring,” cancer survivor and event contributor Mark Lipka said. “We want survivors to know that we understand how rough dealing with cancer can be.”

Caregivers, those who look after cancer patients, were recognized throughout the event and highlighted as a key element in waging the war against cancer.

“Caregivers often have it almost as hard as those who are actually suffering from cancer,” Clubb said. “It’s important to recognize the people who offer their care and support.”

The festivities stretched into the late-night hours with participants continuing their laps long after the sun set. Closing ceremonies took place in the early morning hours and closed the event on a positive note.

Although coordinators deemed the year’s event a success, the ideas of growth and further prosperity weigh heavily on the minds of those involved.

“We’re very appreciative of the great weather and all those who came out, but we need to make sure that this event keeps growing,” said Rick Gaska, volunteer chairman of the Grundy County chapter of the American Cancer Society.

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