by Jonathan Weaver
A dozen inspiring women helped kick off the Relay for Life countdown in Manor Township this past weekend.
Relay for Life Co-Chair Ricki Evans said the 12 women played a big part in the Relay for Life Reunion Brunch held February 4 in the Lenape Technical School cafeteria.
“We had 12 survivors Saturday at the brunch,” Evans said. “We always do survivor recognition at the kick-off and rally both. This year, we did a birthday candle recognition – so when the survivors came up, they told us how many years they have in surviving.
“Of the 12 survivors we had there, we had 115 birthday candles in the fishbowl.”
Evans, of Ford Cliff, said she knew many of the survivors since she has walked in nearly all of the Ford City Relay for Life summer events. This June will be the 20th Ford City Relay for Life at the Ford City football field.
“I’ve been walking at the Ford City event for 18 years now. I started my freshman year of high school,” Evans said.
As a freshman at Ford City Junior-Senior High, Evans walked in memory of her grandfather and at a time when many of her family members were battling cancer.
Both of Evans’ grandmothers and Aunt Sandy Pyle participated in the local Survivor Lap.
Evans’ mother and Pyle’s sister, Sue Cochran, is captain of a team of family and friends that walk in Pyle’s memory. Evans also walks on that team.
“Our active team is because of (Pyle). My team name is ‘Sandy’s Sweet Shoppe.’ We do a lot of bake sales at fundraisers, so that’s how we came up with ‘Sandy’s Sweet Shoppe,’” Evans said. “To carry on her memory with Relay, because she was such a big part of it. Even before she got diagnosed with cancer, she was part of walking.”
Approximately 75 supporters and team members attended the brunch Saturday.
An April rally will be held to give more information to participants and answer any questions before the event.
Relay Community Manager Emma Craven said there are hundreds of community banners around the stadium each year and two dozen “Paint the Town Purple” banners already sponsored for in downtown Ford City this May.
“Those track signs come from all over the U.S.,” Craven said.
This year’s Relay theme is “20 years of Relay: Oh, the Places We’ll Go – Dr. Seuss Twist.”
Usually a 24-hour event, the June 10 Relay will be held from 10AM-midnight to entice more teams to register.