Cancer survivors and their caregivers were honored at an American Cancer Society dinner Thursday evening. Above, a survivor is presented with a pin during the pinning ceremony at the dinner. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
Cancer survivors and their caregivers were honored at an American Cancer Society dinner Thursday evening. Above, a survivor is presented with a pin during the pinning ceremony at the dinner. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)

VAN WERT — Some people do not care to celebrate another birthday, but for a cancer survivor another birthday is a goal. More than 200 cancer survivors, caregivers and American Cancer Society staff and volunteers gathered Thursday evening at Trinity Friends to celebrate with those who have reached another goal of celebrating a birthday.

“It brings me a lot of joy to see their faces and to look around and see them enjoy themselves,” noted ACS Survivor Committee Chair Kim Laudick. “My dad is a cancer survivor as well as my mother-in-law and a number of family members, so it’s something that deep down in my heart I enjoy doing.”

The stories of survival are inspiring for cancer patients and well as those who have never been affected by the disease. That last group is very small as cancer seems to have touched most American families at one time or another. While many fights do not end happily, more and more people are proving that a diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence.

The annual Survivor Dinner leads into the big event for the ACS in the county. The Van Wert County Relay for Life will be held May 2-3 at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds.



But on Thursday the party was on for survivors of the dreaded disease. Each of the survivor and caregivers present were presented with pins honoring their accomplishments and their service. After a meal served by volunteers from Trinity Friends Church, guest speaker Andy Czajkowski, Statewide Ford Lincoln dealer and cancer survivor, spoke to the crowd to share his thoughts on his own battle with cancer.

“We bring in a special guest speaker every year,” Laudick said. “Everybody’s story is different, so it is nice to hear how someone else overcame cancer. They can relate to that. We try to make it so it is an evening out. They don’t have to cook and they can enjoy some entertainment and hear somebody else’s story.”

Entertainment for the evening was provided by Sarah Beckman who sang prior to the pinning ceremony. Door prizes, collected from a host of sponsors, were awarded at the end of the evening.

“We get the opportunity to honor the survivors and the caregivers for not only what they have gone through but also to celebrate that they got to celebrate another birthday,” said Laudick. “It’s all about honoring these people and what they have overcome, and their caregivers for being by their side.”