July 16 06:56 PM

Relay for Life raises big bucks

Record participation in American Cancer Society fundraiser

With Relay for Life participants in step behind them, Boy Scouts lead the way to victory over cancer at American Cancer Society Relay for Life on Saturday. photo by Catherine Brakefield.

June 04, 2008
IMLAY CITY — Many people from all walks of life met for the first time over the weekend weekend at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds for the Relay for Life of Lapeer County.

Carol Boom of the American Cancer Society was excited by the largest turn-out assembled on the fairgrounds, with 57 sponsors and 36 teams consisting of 760 people.

There were 110 survivors and about 200 caregivers that participated in the ceremonies and Relay for Life raised $94,000.

The two largest donating teams were: Ray C's of Lapeer donating $15,247 and St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Imlay City donating 11,894.

"St. Paul was a brand new team. It was so awesome," says Boom. "Every team was awesome. They were great. With these economic times, we still did well. I was a little worried, but people are very passionate about it."

Cancer victims, cancer survivors, and those who had lost a loved one to cancer stood shoulder to shoulder on Saturday.

"Cancer is a disease that never sleeps," said event Chairperson Michele Hall-Lockrey. "Those who lost their battle will not be forgotten. Together we will continue to fight back in Lapeer County."

Guest Speaker Dr. Demens of the Great Lakes Cancer Institute provided the group with five valuable steps in improving your cancer survival rate:

"Cancer screenings are very important," Demens said.

He went on to explain that with western diet vs. the eastern, survivors do 3.5 percent better on the Eastern diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with a minimal amount of meat, exercising four times a week, keeping an ideal weight and, most importantly, keeping connected socially.

"Social connectiveness, extending to an outreach of family members has a positive effect against cancer," Demens said.

He referred to screenings, a healthy diet and exercise, maintaining an ideal weight and social connections as the

keys to battling cancer.

"It's just bread and butter stuff," Demens said.

Campers, trailers and tents filled the fairgrounds and people got to know one another throughout the weekend. One family even brought their covered wagon.

Adopting the Wild Wild West theme complete with the OK Corral, family members came from Shelby and Clinton townships, Chesterfield and Almont. On a large banner they had listed the name of a loved one who died from cancer.

"We talk serious but we have fun doing it," Pat Stammers said with a smile, "because we're family."

Maria Boyne participated because her brother, Imlay City Police Lt. John Palacios died of cancer.

"He was well loved by the community," Boyne said. "(John's) dad passed away last week on the 20th. He was supposed to walk with us, so I'm carrying his shirt."

The young and young of heart enjoyed participating in "Relay through the Ages" donning caveman outfits, cowboy six shooters and the roaring 20s attire.

Little Samantha Schlaud recreated her dress to match the roaring 20s model, depicting Lapeer County Bank & Trust's theme.

When all was said and done, organizers were pleased with the event.

"It was a very exciting event," Carol Boom of the American Cancer Society said. "In spite of the rain and the wind (on Saturday), everyone had a good time."

Pastor Kevin Harbin of the United Methodist Church of Imlay City summed up in a prayer the feelings of the participants during the weekend.

"Father, your word tells us to be thankful in all things," Harbin said.

"Not for all things. We're not thankful for cancer but thankful that everyone is drawn together. . . Individual families and support groups walking together to find a cure for cancer."

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