Cancer survivors walk the Survivor Lap during the 2018 Van Wert Relay for Life at Fountain Park on Friday. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Cancer survivors walk the Survivor Lap during the 2018 Van Wert Relay for Life at Fountain Park on Friday. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – A large turnout gathered at Fountain Park on Friday evening to support this year’s Van Wert Area Relay for Life effort. Money from this year’s effort will go to support local cancer needs as well as American Cancer Society continued research.

Cheryl Eddy, Community Development Manager for the local American Cancer Society, said that she was more than pleased with the community support.

“This is a great turnout,” said Eddy, of Friday’s event that lasted from 6 p.m. until midnight. “It is very encouraging to see the community’s support for the cause of cancer. I would like to thank all of the volunteers and everyone who jumped in to get involved with this great effort.”

“I remember losing my mom to breast cancer six years ago,” commented Convoy’s Samantha Moser. “I never knew a lot about cancer, but I realized that my risk is extremely high.”

“I am currently receiving genetic counseling about the kind of cancer my mom had,” continued Moser. “I have three little girls, and I don’t want to pass this on to them someday. I love this event; it’s very special to me. It makes you feel like you’re not so helpless.”

Cory Michaud said that losing both of his grandmothers to cancer has had a big impact on his life. In addition, he has various family members that have been impacted by the dreaded disease.

“I wanted to get involved with this relay because I wanted to become involved with an action where they are working to find a cure,” said Michaud. “This affects everyone, the rich and poor, black and white, it doesn’t discriminate. We need to fight it from a unified front.”

“I’m a cancer survivor,” noted Bobbie Smith of Van Wert. “I had breast cancer four years ago. I lost my mom to cancer, and my sister had cancer. I’ve learned to enjoy each day for what it’s worth. I am so touched by the community involvement in our cancer relay.”

Jozette Silance has been a cancer survivor since 2012. Silance has survived because her tumor was surgically removed.

“I have to say, ’praise to God,’” said Silance. “I have learned to take life one day at a time. It feels awesome to be a survivor.”

Staci Dotson attributed Friday night’s turnout to the fact that everyone is affected by cancer in some way. She noted that her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer, came through the surgery successfully and then passed away with a stroke afterward.

“It hit closer to home this year. I used to take it all for granted, but when something like this happens, you realize the importance of getting involved in cancer relay to prevent others from going through this kind of pain,” said Dotson. “People in this community are so supportive of good causes like this.”

Local resident Jan Agler, caregiver of the late Stan Agler, former mayor of Van Wert, sees the relay as a way to give back to a community that supported her loved ones.

“Years before I had cancer,” said Agler. “It is so relentless. Seeing all of these people here tonight is so encouraging.”

“I am thrilled to be here, well, lucky to be here,” said Delphos’ Linda Korte, who went through a bout with cancer in 1993. “I beat cancer. I’ve been cancer-free ever since. One of these days we’re going to kick cancer. It’s so amazing, seeing this many people together in one place for the same cause. I’m glad that in the midst of cancer we can smile and feel good about what we are doing.”