Stillwater News Press

Local News

August 11, 2012

Stillwater Relay for Life campaign inspires hope

STILLWATER, Okla. — Friday’s Stillwater Relay for Life meant hope for the nearly 450 people participating in the fight against cancer event at the Payne County Expo Center.

Cancer survivors and others whose lives have been touched by cancer hoped to raise at least $155,000 at the event, co-chairman Kim Leffingwell said.

Team Stillwater Survivors decorated their campsite with memorabilia from France. An Eiffel Tower replica and Mona Lisa adorned the booth.

Team member Dot Kulling was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2006. She said Relay for Life is important because it raises money for research.

“A lot of cancers today that are curable were not several years ago,” she said.

Her husband  Frank Kulling attended to support his wife. He agreed that the event is important because it helps fund research.

Kulling said the team has been raising money for this year’s event since “right after the first of the year.” The team’s efforts have included selling cookbooks, a quilt raffle, restaurants donating a portion of their proceeds and sponsorships from local businesses.

Chelsey Tearney, team development chairwoman on the Relay for Life committee, said 33 teams participated at this year’s event.

 “I would say there are roughly 450 people here, including participants and survivors,” she said. Tearney said Stillwater’s Relay for Life was the No. 3 Relay for Life fundraiser in the state last year.

Kristi Riley of Team Claire said, “This event is important because cancer can make you feel so helpless and it gives you something to do towards that goal of getting rid of cancer.”

The theme of the night was “Relay around the World.” Campsites were set up around the Expo Center and decorated as different countries. Food and items associated with those countries were sold as part of the fundraiser.

During the opening ceremonies, “Voice of the Cowboys” Dave Hunziker said, “We admire those who survived and remember those who lost their battle.”

Matt Allen spoke about his 3-year battle with stage 4 cancer. He told participants, “I look out there and I see hope. You guys are going to change the world and I thank you for that.”

After the opening ceremony, survivors lined up for the Survivor Lap. Men, women and children said their name and the amount of time they had been survivors of the disease. Loud cheers and the sound of hands clapping filled the room as the survivors took their laps around the Expo Center.

The overnight event lasted from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday

 “The next 12 hours will symbolize the journey in the day of someone fighting cancer, a disease that never sleeps,” Leffingwell said.

Throughout the night, those in attendance participated in events including the survivor lap, luminaria ceremony, which honors those who have been touched by cancer, and games. A silent auction also was held to raise money at the event.

  Relay for Life is an annual American Cancer Society fundraising event that strives to bring awareness to cancer and honor those who have been touched by the disease.

  For more information, visit  www.relay forlife.org/stillwaterok.

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