Over $62,000 raised for American Cancer Society


By Peter Becker

Managing Editor

LAKE REGION - Hope abounded as hundreds gathered for the annual Relay for Life of the Greater Lake Region. Raising a record of at least $62,000 for the American Cancer Society, the dollars raised is only one outcome of the 24-hour event, held May 18-19.

While less tangible and not as easy to record is the level of strength and faith within the hearts of the survivors, caregivers, cancer patients and families of those who lost loved ones to the disease. They gathered, often with their own stories clutched within their hearts, and sometimes sharing with who they discover is a great and wide family of those who understand.

They may have been strangers traditional sense, walking the athletic track side by side or in front or behind, and of diverse age and background, but all had something in common. It wasn't just the experience with some form of cancer, it was their common courage, the victory they sought or proclaimed.

Jan O'Neill is one of the hundreds of cancers survivors who attended on Saturday. The Lancaster resident was surrounded by family and friends in matching pink, celebrating her victory over breast cancer.

This was her for Relay for Life. "I was down and out last year under treatment," she said. Her several sisters-in-laws and friends were at the Wallenpaupack track marching and believing together.

News of cancer was so devastating yet life is mixed with hope. The same week she began her treatments, she said, her first grandchild was born.

They were back this year, as part of the Wahoo Administrative Team from Wallenpaupack Area School District, raising money for cancer research.

"With lots of support and good attitude you can get past it and life can go on," O'Neill said.

There were 26 teams participating this year. As of Sunday they had raised $62,000, surpassing last year, with more expected to come in. Three individuals had raised over $1,000, Page Hochreither.

Event Co-Chair, reported.

Proceeds from the Weichert Realtors Paupack Group giant yard sale will benefit the Greater Lake Region Relay for Life. The event is this Saturday, May 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Weichert office , 2415 Route 6, east of Hawley and next to Tuck-em Inn motel.

At the opening ceremony, Chairperson Danielle Crouthamel likened the 24-hour relay to a day in the life of someone fighting cancer, "a disease that never sleeps." Those who have died from cancer, she said, would shine as the stars they hoped to see from the track that night. The track was lined with glowing luminaries that evening, in memory of loved ones.

The area was festooned with purple and white balloons. There was a wreath put on a fence made from the ribbons hung on the Relay for Life Tree of Hope last December in front of the Hawley Library.

The Wallenpaupack Second Grand Ensemble offered several uplifting songs at the opening event.

Rev. Colleen Cox led the invocation. She admonished everyone, "Let's go from this place and live one of the best days of our lives."

A huge surge of community support brings together the Relay for Life every year, with the participation by the School District and many other organizations and people. The Dime Bank is a major financial sponsor, and numerous other businesses help. A committee of volunteers puts in untold hours getting activities in place and keeping it running.

Cancer is slowly losing.

Crouthamel told the crowd that 60 years ago, one in three people survived cancer. Today it is two out of three, in part due to the efforts of the American Cancer Society.

"Let's make it three out of three," she declared, to a burst of cheers and applause.

Coming next: Delaware Valley Relay for Life at the Delaware Valley High School track, near Milford, June 1-2.

For information about the American Cancer Society as well as about cancer, visit www.cancer.org or call toll-free 24 hours a day at 1-800-227-2345.