MOUNT GILEAD — Cancer has taken a lot from Marcia Wenger.
”I lost my dad, an aunt, my daughter and other family members,” said Wenger, who spoke to the crowd gathered for the annual Relay For Life of Morrow County under clear skies Friday evening at Gilead Friends Church.
Wenger spoke of the battle her daughter Christie Bago underwent.
“She was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer,” she said.
She died after a 14-month battle. She had operated Pit Stop 95 with her husband Rick.
“I’m blessed to have had her for 42 years. Others have lost more than I have,” Wenger said.
Relay For Life is a community-based fundraising event run by the American Cancer Society. Each year, more than 3,500 relay-for-life events take place in more than 20 countries.
This marked the 20th year for the event in Morrow County and the fifth year at the church.
“The fight is real,” reminded organizer Connie Mattingly.
“Our desire is to put an end to this disease. The thousands of dollars raised here every year in donations helps us fight it,” she said.
Jaimie Counts, part of the Morrow County Hospital Walking Warriors, has seen the toll cancer takes on people.
“I’m a nurse and for a year and a half was a hospice nurse. I also lost my grandmother-in-law to cancer and I am going to do a lap for her,” Counts said.
Kelli Cooperider lost her grandfather to the disease.
“My father also has an ongoing battle with cancer,” said Cooperider, part of the First-Knox National Bank’s Relay team.
“We remember those who have passed away and we honor those who are still fighting,” she said.
Survivors and caregivers were served dinner. A silent auction was held and at dark luminarias were lit.
Belinda Jackson came from Galena to take part.
“He’s one of the reasons we keep doing what we’re doing,” Jackson said as she held up a photo of Matthew Barr, who died in 2011 of cancer. He was 5 and 1/2 years old.
“He made such an impression on me,” said Jackson, a 16-year survivor of uterine cancer.