TROY — Miami County’s annual Relay for Life kicked off on Friday night as cancer survivors and supporters prepared to walk through the night to raise funds to help fight cancer.
Amy Sweetman, a board member of the Miami County Relay For Life, said the goal of the event is to raise money and awareness to help fight cancer.
“All of the money stays right here in Miami County,” Sweetman said. “It doesn’t go to some other state where you don’t even know what happens to it.”
Sweetman said the organization was at $71,000 of their annual $100,000 goal as of Friday night. That goal is likely to be met, as last year’s relay raised $39,000 in the overnight hours, she said.
Speakers at the event shared their personal experiences with cancer. Gary Kercher of Troy lost his wife, Jolene Kercher, on Jan. 13 of this year to cancer. She was 59.
“When I was first asked about offering some words for the caregivers, I eagerly said yes,” Kercher said, speaking about his experience as his wife’s caretaker. “However, after thinking about it further, I was not sure how to feel about reliving the most difficult time in my life.”
Kercher went on to encourage attendees to not only donate, but also to actively raise awareness and fight against cancer.
“Why did I agree to relive this agony and sorrow?” Kercher asked. “The answer is simple now: that is what Jolene would have done, and that is what would have made her proud of me. So please walk for a cure. Please talk to others to fight the fight. Please donate to help fight this disease. Please make this year the best year ever, because in Jolene’s words: ‘we have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have us.’”
Survivors attending the event were appreciative of the community’s support. Mary Netzley of Troy was diagnosed with breast cancer over a decade ago, and has been in remission since 2001.
“I was diagnosed with with breast cancer in 2000, and I’ve made it to 2017,” Netzley said.
Netzley said the event was important to cancer survivors.
“It means a lot to a lot of people, because it brings everybody closer to realize that everyone’s families touched, whether it be small children or grandparents,” Netzley said. “It’s a fun event.”
Sweetman said donations will still be accepted after the relay, and the organization hopes to meet their $100,000 goal by August.
Reach Bennett Leckrone, a summer intern with the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call, at email@example.com