BY LINDSAY MCCOY
VAN WERT - Hundreds of people joined together to walk for a cure Friday evening and all through the night as a part of the annual American Cancer Society Van Wert County Relay for Life. A goal was set for 30 teams, and the Van Wert community went above and beyond this goal with 32 teams participating in the annual event.
Over 234 participants signed up to be a part of this year’s event at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds with many additional people making appearances to show their support. The event kicked off Friday at 6 p.m. with the survivor’s lap for those who have survived cancer as well as their caregivers.
By Thursday night with the conclusion of luminaria sales, Van Wert Relay had already successfully raised $21,896 that will go directly towards finding a cure for cancer. Top fundraising teams included Leland Smith Insurance Services Inc. and Legs for Liberty First Federal of Van Wert.
“We are out here to support a fellow co-worker, Lori Schaffer, who lost her fight with cancer,” said Leland Smith Insurance team member April Korte.
To raise funds, the team sought out online donations, sold pedometers, luminarias, and T-shirts. This team alone signed up over 50 walkers.
Walkers could continually be seen making their way around the track as one member of each team must be walking at all times for the endurance of the event because cancer never sleeps.
When not walking, event-goers could visit multiple vendors to show their support of Relay for Life.
“As a group, vendors can raise more money in two hours and during the full time of the event through paying for vendor spots, bingo, and the sale of items,” said vendor and Once I Was owner, Vickie Shulte. “It is important for me to do this because I have a long history of cancer in my family, and this is one of the best things we do in Van Wert County to give back.”
Once dark, everyone gathered around the track for a very special lap. Lunenarias are lit and each person who lost their life to cancer is recognized. It is a very touching moment that often brings silence and tears as lost loved ones are remembered.