By Michael Buhler
There are few things that have affected so many people – either directly or indirectly – as the scourge of cancer. However, residents came from all over western Sedgwick County last Friday night to strike a blow against cancer at the Western Sedgwick County Relay for Life at the Goddard High School gymnasium.
The annual event raised $45,000, a total that event chair Amy Hammond was pleased with.
“Our turnout was good,” Hammond said. “We had some new teams that were full of enthusiasm. They will continue to do great things for our relay.”
Hammond has been involved with the event for nine years now.
||Hannah Hoopes of Garden Plain competes in a hula hoop contest at Relay For Life. More photos will be posted soon at tsnews.com.
I absolutely love Relay For Life,” Hammond said. “I started out being on a team. The next year, we formed a family team and the year after that, we moved onto the planning committee but have kept our family team as well. I have lost so many family and friends to cancer that I want to keep fighting until there is a cure. I don’t want to lose anyone else to this dreaded disease.”
Events kicked off last Friday with a ceremony recognizing sponsors, then survivors of cancer took a few laps around the gymnasium before participating teams hit the track at the gym to walk to fight cancer. Other events that night included a silent auction, a hula hoop contest, performances by the Cheney and Goddard high school dance teams, and the tacky queen contest, which was a drag queen fashion show.
Goddard High School drama teacher Jamie Oettle and several of her students also participated in the event.
“It was fun to work as a team,” Oettle said. “It’s personal for a lot of us because we’ve lost loved ones to cancer. Just seeing them come together and have fun doing it is rewarding.”
After living in California for several years, Oettle was excited to once again be part of the Relay.
“I was part of it when we brought it to Goddard originally,” Oettle said. “I was on the planning team that brought it to Goddard. We did it that year and the next year, and then we left for California. After we came back here, I thought ‘Oh we should try it.’ The kids jumped right on board.”
One person whose presence stood out at the event was Cindy Piper, who was this year’s honorary survivor. Piper is a seven-year survivor of adenocarcinoma that started in her ovaries and spread into her lungs.
“I had gone into the doctor’s office for a blood pressure check and I had this cough that wouldn’t clear up,” Piper said. “He took an x-ray to check it out and after a biopsy, they found the cancer.”
At the time, the doctors told Piper’s relatives that she would be lucky if she made it to Memorial Day. However, her lungs were beginning to clear up by the time of her second treatment and by July 2006, she had finished treatment.
“I give all the glory to God because he put me with right doctors to save my life,” Piper said. “For whatever reason, God chose to keep me here.”
As a cancer survivor, Relay for Life is very important to Piper.
“The relay is something I firmly believe in supporting as much as I can and as firmly as I can,” Piper said. “Those people are champions to me. They’re honorary survivors as far as I am concerned.”