Relay for Life exceeds goal

AWARDS PRESENTED — The Jefferson County Relay for Life opening ceremonies included the acknowledgment of county schools who fared well in raising money at mini relays, field days or relay recesses. With $9,200.56, Indian Creek Middle School raised the most money ever in a mini relay with the award accepted by Colleen Shepherd, right. The most improved school award went to East Elementary in Steubenville with $1,435, accepted by Brittany Fuller. -- Janice Kiaski

TORONTO — The Jefferson County Relay for Life exceeded its fundraiser goal by more than $6,000 for the American Cancer Society, all in hopes of “making cures come true.”

Emily Russell, who served as event lead along with Tom Simmons, said a follow-up meeting to Friday’s event held at Toronto Junior-Senior High School Clarke Hinkle Stadium for the first time, will be scheduled and announced.

“We will have a wrap-up meeting soon,” Russell noted Monday.

“We had a wonderful event. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves,” she said of the fundraiser for ACS research, patient services, advocacy and education. “I think we had a wonderful turnout. Our total was $88,585.40 with people still turning money in. Our goal was $82,500,” she added.

With a Disney twist, the relay-adopted theme “Where Cures Come True,” bore out in decorations that teams had at booths throughout the stadium grounds. The evening included music by DJ Rich Coburn, entertainment, food, special events, a luminaria ceremony and lighted balloon release and on-site fundraisers, including Chinese auctions.

Tracy Barnhouse, ACS community development manager, served as master of ceremonies before the relay officially started with survivors and their caregivers walking the ceremonial opening lap, then being treated to a meal provided by Froehlich’s Classic Corner in Steubenville.

Cancer survivors Jenny Dickinson, a physical education teacher and intervention specialist at Toronto City Schools, and Mara Keenan, 6, and Wyatt Anderson, 11, both students at Karaffa Elementary, led cancer survivors in the opening lap.

Pastor Tyler Bayless of the First Presbyterian Church of Toronto gave the opening prayer with the Ohio Valley Chorale leading in the national anthem.

Toronto Mayor John Parker extended a welcome to participants.

“On behalf of the city of Toronto, I would like to thank everybody for coming out and for all the volunteers, especially Connie (Crawford) and Karen (Lundquist) for all your hard work in bringing this to Toronto,” Parker said. “We’re excited to host this relay — such a special event,” he added.

Superintendent of Toronto City Schools Maureen Taggart also extended a welcome and gratitude. “I want to thank God for his divine intervention for this weather,” she motioned with a smile toward the sunny skies free of rain after many days of just the opposite.

“We’re so excited to have the relay here this evening for the very first time, and we hope that this becomes an ongoing tradition in Toronto because it really is the ideal place for the relay,” Taggart said, thanking all those involved in organizing the event. A relay participant herself, Taggart noted, “I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it this evening.”

Barnhouse introduced Russell and Simmons, applauding their leadership. “They both very graciousy stepped up this year to help lead this event, and I’ve appreciated all the hard work they put into it,” she said. “This is an amazing gathering. Just look around you. Families, friends, co-workers, businesses and community leaders, children, grandparents and neighbors are all here for the same reason — to put an end to cancer. This is certainly Jefferson County at its finest hour,” Barnhouse said. “The next 15 hours will take us together on a life-affirming journey symbolizing a day in the life of someone fighting cancer, a disease that never sleeps,” she said.

“Fighting cancer isn’t going to be easy — nothing worthwhile ever is,” Simmons told the stadium audience. “It takes power and courage and time and money and sacrifice, just like it does to survive cancer, but it is possible. Together, we will all fight to bring an end to this horrible disease,” Simmons said.

Karen Lundquist and Connie Crawford oversee and encourage the involvement of schools in their individual relays — a key fundraising element of the main relay through a concept championed by the now-retired Edison Local Schools teachers.

High schools have mini relays; middle schools, field days; and elementary schools, Relay Recess. The 2019 total in that area with 19 Jefferson County schools participating was $45,632.41.

The two presented awards to the top three schools raising the most money with Indian Creek Middle School taking top honors.

“This school raised the most money ever in a mini relay — $9,200.56,” Lundquist said of the award accepted by Colleen Shepherd.

Second-place honors went to Hills Elementary with $6,150 raised, and third-place with $3,915 to Karaffa Elementary, accepted by Jenny Dickinson.

The most improved school was East Elementary in Steubenville with $1,435, accepted by Brittany Fuller.

Other schools, amounts and coordinators were:

High schools, mini relays: Steubenville, $3,738, Scott Lane; Edison, $3,396.65, Caity Schultz; Toronto, $764.50, Rick Hlivko, Jenna Lucci, Kayla Mosti, Johnathan Durand and Tabitha Meredith; Catholic Central, $370, Thomas Costello; and Indian Creek, $1,500, Julie Robertson.

Middle schools, field day: Harding, $3,500, Jennifer Storey and Katie Eskeridge; and Bishop John King Mussio, $250, Theresa Danaher.

Elementary Schools, Relay Recess: Indian Creek Elementary, $897.96, Mackenzie Householder; Hills, $6,150, Ashley Turnball; Stanton, $2,707, Mary Ann Hoobler; John Gregg, $2,315, Carrie Rudy; Pugliese West, $1,180, David Sanders; Wells Academy, $3,087.91, Cheryl Rubish; Bishop John King Mussio, $532, Lee Ann Emmerling; Buckeye North, $132, Susan Nolan; and Buckeye West, $328.33, Margo Scherich.

Barnhouse applauded Lundquist and Crawford for their work with the mini relays, presenting each with a plaque.

“These two lovely ladies for the past 11 years since they retired have worked tirelessly with our Relay Recess program here in Jefferson County,” Barnhouse said. “These two ladies are all the time calling me and telling me about the exciting things they’re doing, how well the schools are doing here, and they put a lot of time and energy into this program, and we want to say thank you so much to them for all of that time,” she said.

Teams participating were Christa’s Crew, Cresco Labs, First Presbyterian Church of Toronto, Gators, Gforce, JSW Steel USA Ohio, Monica’s Warriors, Purple Crusaders, Spunky Ladies, Stacy’s Pink Posse, Steppin’ for Sisters, Team Cooper, Team Jayden, Team Sienna, the Red Line, TOPS 9739, Toronto Apothecary, Wal-Mart Distribution Center 7017 and Wintersville United Methodist Church.

“Cancer is one of the leading causes of disease here in Jefferson County,” Barnhouse noted in the program booklet. “While progress has been made and can be seen and measured, there is still much more work for us to do,” she added. “Your donations and support help discover new ways to prevent cancer or find it at its earliest, most treatable stage and help people takes steps to stay healthy,” she continued. “Every day the American Cancer Society is making strides in research that will bring new cures and measurable improvement to the quality of life for all cancer survivors.”

For relay information, contact Barnhouse by phone at (740) 509-0196 or by e-mail to tracy.barnhouse@cancer.org. For ACS information, visit cancer.org. The cancer helpline number is (800) 227-2345.