Relay for Life Lake County participants share their reasons for relaying

·3 min read

Aug. 28—Relay for Life of Lake County's Power of Purple is set to take place next month at Wes Point Park in downtown Willoughby.

The family-oriented event will be from 2 to 9 p.m., Sept. 17. Those interested in taking part in the relay may do so online.

The relay will feature a celebration for cancer survivors followed by a dinner for them and their caregivers provided by Forno Wood Fire Catering and Nibbles Bakery; music and a visit from a Lake Metroparks animal ambassador; a variety of raffle baskets; contests for the 22 relay teams; a balloon artist, face painting and games; a visit from the Mentor Fire Department's Comfort 54 lavender-colored fire truck; and The Bus Stop Food Truck and the Glaze 'Em Ohio Gourmet Funnel Cakes food truck from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

The proceeds from the relay will go toward the American Cancer Society, which uses those funds locally for cancer research, and various programs.

In addition, a luminaria ceremony will take place, intended to celebrate cancer survivors, for those undergoing cancer treatment and to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer. Luminaria will be available to purchase at the event.

"The minute you arrive at our event, you will notice the excitement and commitment of our volunteers, all of whom want to make a difference," said Gail Norris, the event's marketing lead.

Among the relay teams set to take part is the Purple Buckeyes Relay team, created by Kylie Forbes in honor of her father, who died last year from pancreatic cancer.

Forbes hopes to raise more awareness regarding pancreatic cancer and to remind people to be mindful of their health, and family history.

"Every step, every dollar could help another family that is in my position," she said. "I want them to know they are not alone, that awareness is being raised, that there are people out there searching for a cure."

For more than 20 years, Jeff May, the entertainment lead, has been a volunteer for Relay for Life Lake County. At first, he joined to honor and support friends and family he lost to cancer or who were currently battling cancer.

"I have lost most of those who were battling and in 2012, I lost my dad to cancer," May said. "That really hit home for me and motivated me even more to stay focused on the mission, to continue to raise money for the American Cancer Society for research, support and services to those still fighting and their families.

"I want to be a part of the reason no one has to hear those words 'you have cancer' again."

Bert Barresi, co-lead of the survivors' celebration and dinner, participates in the relay because it's his way of helping to fund research for the cure and due to having many siblings affected with cancer.

"It gives hope for further advancement for a cure to see so many survivors at our event," he said.

While cancer has not touched his life closely, Dave Cowen, the logistics lead, has seen what it has done to others.

"I need to do whatever I can to support those people," he said.

According to Relay for Life, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, as well as communities in 19 other countries take part in the global phenomenon.