Of Father’s Day and a special relay

The first thing I want to do is recognize an important event that is happening today – Father’s Day.

It isn’t as popular as the May event honoring mothers, with flowers, clothing and telephone calls, but important to any child who runs to greet dad as he arrives home from work or from a meeting. Or to a grown children who send a card thanking the dad they felt taught them the more meaningful things of life.

I’m looking at a card sent by one of our sons, and it reads like this: “We wish you a day of simple gifts, an unhurried cup of good coffee, some quiet moments to day dream, time to put your feet up and relax, a few ‘good feeling’ surprises and to drop a hint that you are a very important person.”

That was the last card sent by Larry and Mary in 2011. It will be treasured forever.

Here is a poem that emphasizes the fact that fathers need to set an example.

Little Eyes Upon You

There are little eyes upon you, and they’re watching night and day.

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager to do anything you do.

And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise.

In his little mind about you no suspicions every rise.

He believes in you devoutly, holds all that you say and do.

He will say and do, in your way, when he’s grown up like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right

And his eyes are always opened, and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example every day in all you do,

For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be like you.

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Another event with great meaning to us this weekend was the Harrison County Relay for Life.

We were committee members for the relay for five years and came to know all the great people in the county, and it was exciting to hear about those who won the battle over cancer and heart warming to learn about those who put up a valiant fight and lost with dignity.

This year, we did not take part but attended the event at a new location, Sally Buffalo Park, which happened to be much more committee convenient with the use of Wallace Lodge for the survivors’ dinner, Chinese auction, displays, the sale of chicken dinners and the restrooms.

The committee consisted of Anisa Rocchi and Mindy Madzia, co-chairmen; Lori Doane and Amy Morrison, fundraising; Ronna Orr, youth; Patti Sabo, survivors’ dinner; and Nancy Stephenson, silent auction. Bethani Barsch is the American Cancer Society staff partner.

Lamont did the survivors lap with about 40 other walkers wearing the colorful purple T-shirts. It was really touching to see the survivors making their way around the track.

I was running trying to get ahead of the walkers to take a picture when I noticed a very touching pair of walkers. It was Lori Doane, a member of the relay committee, team captain for the Funky Monkeys and a cancer survivor, and her younger sister, Holly Willis.

They were walking with hands clapsed together and tears in their eyes.

Lori is now free of cancer, but it has been learned that Holly now has breast cancer, the same as her sister and at the very same age. The younger sister helped Lori come through her battle, and now Lori is there for her.

Another walker who warms your heart just to know her is Jacki Rocchi. This lady has always been a bundle of energy and smiles, and she still has those qualities even after going through continuing extensive treatment for pancreatic cancer.

She learned that she had a cancerous tumor on her pancreas on April 27, 2012, after going to the doctor when her skin turned a dark shade of yellow.

Jackie was the cheerleader for her family when she learned all she would be going through, and her motto was that cancer was not going to beat her down.

She chose chemotherapy and radiation in the hopes that her tumor would shrink enough to complete a massive surgery called the Whipple procedure. During an attempt at surgery, doctors discovered it would be too complicated and invasive to continue. This seemed discouraging at first, but Jackie feels that God has another plan.

She started another round of chemotherapy just for good measure, and those who know Jackie know that nothing can hold her down.

Not liking how the chemo made her feel, she decided to stop treatments and is back to work full time as a ward clerk at the Harrison Community Hospital, even working two days a week during her treatments.

She continues to cook for her family comprised of her boyfriend, Tom Mizer; two sons, John and Jim Rocchi; their wives, Robin and Anisa; granddaughters, Caitlyn and Taya; and grandson, Giovanni.

On the day of the relay, Jackie had just returned from the Harrison Central baseball game in Columbus where Giovanni was playing. She walked the survivors’ lap, was greeting old friends and then walked the purple lap with her family and Judi Seleski, a sister-in-law, later in the evening.

“I’m grateful for every day. Things could have been worse. I just keep fighting, and the faith that everybody has in me has kept me going. I take it day by day and love life,” she said with her big winning smile.

Jackie recently took part in the Gable Memorial Foundation trip to Chicago as one of the leaders, with Nan Mattern, executive director. Jackie is secretary to the organization and has been active with the promotion of Clark Gable for many years.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)