County comes out for annual Relay for Life event in Marion

Sam and Lena Hall pose at their team booth on Saturday during the Relay for Life of Marion County event. Not only is Lena one of the event's main organizers, she was a caregiver for her husband Sam who is a survivor of cancer. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
Sam and Lena Hall pose at their team booth on Saturday during the Relay for Life of Marion County event. Not only is Lena one of the event's main organizers, she was a caregiver for her husband Sam who is a survivor of cancer. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
Some very strong people and their loved ones showed up on Saturday, Aug 24 in Marion for the Relay for Life event. The event celebrates cancer survivors and their care giver, remembering those taken by cancer and fighting back to help stop cancer. The theme this year was reflect, regenerate and renew.

Participants spent the day enjoying meals together as well as various fun activities such as a scavenger hunt, blind make-up contest, swimming and more.

There were many prizes to bid on and win as well as drawings. So many gift baskets and silent auction items were generously donated by businesses and individuals from all over the county. All of the proceeds went to help fight cancer and find a cure.

“We were still a little shy of our goal of $20,000, but we always accept online donations at relayforlife.org/marioncoks,” said Debbie Connor, one of the event’s head organizers.

On of the most touching moments of the entire day was the opening ceremony when the survivors do a lap around the gym and then are joined by their care givers. There were not a lot of dry eyes in the building.

The day is full of beautiful moments as many pause to celebrate life knowing just how fragile it is.

“I always come away from an event with moments to treasure and reassure me it is well worth the time and effort. For example, I saw a couple of moments that no one else likely noticed. Esley, a 93 year old survivor and his wife had just checked in and they sat at a table. She was gently and lovingly combing his hair making sure it was just right. Two brothers and their survivor wives with their whole clan of children and grandchildren there in support. A lady, just diagnosed with cancer on Aug 12,” said Connor.

Lena Hall also gets emotional at the event. Her husband Sam is a survivor. “Sorry, I just get emotional during the Survivor Lap,”said Hall.

While the team did not have as much as they had hoped for this year, they did an amazing job pulling it all off. The event was a success with a large attendance and a significant amount of money was raised.

“Every year, we (leadership) learn something new, and we are already brainstorming ideas for 2020. We have struggled to recruit leadership volunteers and new teams, but we do the best we can to make it a memorable event for our survivors and care givers and share the impact that our fundraising has. If you were there at 5 p.m. to hear Greg Brenzikofer speak, his was a real story of the impact our fundraising has.Thank you to everyone for coming,” said Connor.