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Relay For Life; Wish Upon a Cure
RUMFORD- With 14 teams scattered around Hosmer Field on Friday afternoon, blanketed by beautiful blue skies, the River Valley Relay For Life celebration was underway with rockin’ music, smiling faces and participants ready to celebrate the life of survivors and the memory of those who have fallen victim to the cruel disease.
This year’s theme was Disney, Wish Upon a Cure. Teams were dressed in their favorite cartoon character garb and each decorated their campsite in coordination. With Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Nemo, the Lion King and many others being represented, participants were in full swing for the night.
Each year, the competition to fundraise gets harder and harder, but with the friendships that are made on this very special weekend, some get a little boost every now and then.
In 2011, the Newpage team lost one of their own to cancer, Linwood Hinkley. But, before his passing, he was sure to look out for those he cared for. After setting his wife, Debbie, up with a booming business in Eustis and making sure she would prosper financially without him, he requested that a dear friend, and fellow cancer warrior get a boost for her future, too.
On the day before Relay For Life began at Hosmer Field, Debbie paid a visit to Diane Mitchell. She presented her with a check made payable to Abbie’s Avengers in the amount of $1000.
“Linwood always had a special place in his heart for Abbie (Blavelt),” noted Mitchell. “Debbie said that he wanted the best for that little girl. She was a shining star to him.”
In an interview with Abbie and her mom, Tracy Daigle, they were very humbled to know that Hinkley remembered their team. “It was very nice of him,” noted Abbie. “It puts me over $1500 that I raised myself. And, it put me over what my grandmother has raised.”
With raffles for a homemade bench and rocking horse, as well as many other items, Abbie’s Avengers had a preliminary fundraising amount of $8000 as of Friday night.
On the opposite corner of the track, was the River Valley Gym, dressed as Alice in Wonderland.
Michelle Worthley, dressed as the ace of spades, noted, “Everyone here has someone that has had cancer or died from it. We did this in memory of all of them.”
Team captain, Kat Ward, noted that the team had raised a little more than $600 with a car wash, bake sale, bottle drive and individual donations. This was their first year participating.
Participating now, for the past 13 years, is Michael’s Angels. “We started doing this when the kids were little,” noted Sherry Milligan, the widow of Michael. “The kids grew up here. It’s been a great event for everyone to gather at. Even though it’s been harder and harder to raise money, every little bit counts. Together we can all make a difference.”
Making a difference by sharing their various stories, was the Franklin Savings Bank team. Their employees shared the stories of their loved ones; Susan, with lung cancer; Maiya with Rhabdomyosarcoma; Larry with leukemia, Sandra with brain cancer, and Dawn Bolduc, unspecified.
“This has been very difficult,” noted Jennifer McPherson, daughter to Susan, and Franklin Savings Bank employee. “It’s been two years since my mom passed, but it feels like only yesterday. It’s funny how life goes on, but when you are a part of things like this, it all comes back to you. This is a great support network.”
While many spend the night walking the track surrounded by luminaries in memory of and in honor of their friends and loved ones, there are others that are there for themselves.
One such couple seen walking the survivor’s lap was Jeff and Sara Gallant. Sara is a two year survivor of breast cancer, thanks to early detection.
“I was diagnosed right off during my annual mammogram,” noted Sara. “Within one month I was in the hospital having surgery. I was very lucky, because they got all the cancer during the surgery. I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation.”
Sara’s husband, Jeff, added, “She was scary lucky. We’re so grateful they got it when they did.”
The Gallants don’t belong to any team, but help where they are needed.
With money still pouring in, the final numbers for funds raised during the 2012 Relay For Life event won’t be official until the end of the month.
For more information on River Valley Relay For Life, contact Diane Mitchell at 357-8621.