Relay raises more than $23,700

Cynthia Berret (center) of Marion was one of 48 registered cancer survivors at the 17th annual Relay for Life of Marion County Saturday at the Sports and Aquatic Center. On her right is Sharon Terrel, Marion, and on her left is Cindy Sisson, Council Grove. Relay for Life of Marion County raised more than $23,700 Saturday, but according to officials, donations are still being counted.

Ashley Hoffman of Marion, who served on the 2013 committee, said 11 teams participated this year, which was two teams more than last year.

?We wanted 12 teams, but it?s awesome that we had 11 and were definitely up (from 2012),? Hoffman said.

Many teams raise money for the American Cancer Society by selling tickets for items or having bake sales, according to Hoffman.

?One of the teams started selling chances for a quilt six months ago,? she said.

Hoffman said the event at the Marion Sports and Aquatic Center also had more luminaries and participants than last year.

Nanette Lowry, 59, of Marion, a 39-year survivor of cervical cancer, was joined by her two service dogs?Astro, an 8-year-old black labrador retriever, and Tank, a 9-month-old Mastiff. ?Luminaries are the main part of the event honoring those who have passed away from cancer,? she said.

Melissa Easterberg, community manager and development with the High Plains Division of the ACS in Wichita, said she was happy with this year?s support from Marion County.

?This event has fantastic community support through corporate sponsorship, luminary sales and team fundraising dollars,? Easterberg said.

More than 1,200 luminaries honoring those who battled cancer were remembered by their family and friends.

?Since 1997, the Relay for Life of Marion County has raised $472,714,? Easterberg said. ?Corporate sponsorship was $6,550 and team fundraising was $17,100.?

Almost 50 people participated in the survivor walk at the start of the event, which Hoffman said was higher than the previous year.

Both Hoffman and Easterberg were excited about the turnout.

?The passion the Marion County volunteers and participants have for the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life is unmatched,? Easterberg said. ?I have greatly enjoyed working with this group the past two years, and I couldn?t be more proud of their accomplishments.?

For Hoffman, the past two years have been rebuilding years.

?All of us stepped up, and hopefully it will continue (next year),? she said.

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