Carroll County Relay for Life hits $212,369
More money pouring in to spectacularly successful cancer-fighting fundraiser
July 1, 2013
Brandon Bohac looks inside a luminaria bag while helping light candles during Friday’s Carroll County Relay for Life celebration held at Carroll Athletic Field. The luminaria display is part of the fundraising for the Relay, but more importantly it is a tribute to cancer survivors and to individuals who have lost their battle with cancer. Hundreds of the white bags lined the running track at the stadium, and each had some type of personal message written on it. Bohac is a son of Kevin and Christy Bohac and his brother, Tyler, also helped with the luminaria project. By the end of closing ceremonies Saturday morning the event had raised $212,367.
Dr. P.J. Greteman said his family was well into the children's "chain of hope" walk before they noticed.
The paper link the family clutched in the Carroll County Relay for Life Friday bore the name of a close friend, Sue Ludwig, a Kuemper Catholic High School classmate of P.J.'s who died of cancer Nov. 8, 2011 at age 42.
A highly respected obstetrics nurse at St. Anthony Regional Hospital's Birth Place, Ludwig helped with the care of P.J. and Robyn Greteman's children, Conor, 7, and Cooper, 3.
"She's an integral reason why we relay," P.J. Greteman said as his family prepared to absorb the Celebration of Life ceremony at the 2013 Carroll County Relay for Life, a major community event aimed at combating cancer.
P.J. and Robyn Greteman also have lost three of their eight grandparents to cancer.
The Carroll County Relay pulled in $212,369 as of the end of Friday night, said C.J. Niles, a community relations coordinator for the American Cancer Society. That figure at the same time last year: $205,768.
More donations, including matching funds from various organizations, are expected to flow in to the fund-raiser's coffers in coming months.
In 2012, Carroll County raked in $268,487 for ACS's Relay, earning a No. 1 spot for the most money raised per-capita.
Per-capita, Carroll County raised $13.04.
Nationally, the Relay raises $410 million.
The Midwest Relay for Life, which includes Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin raises $1.80 per-capita; Iowa raises $2.20 per-capita and western Iowa - including 30 counties, raises about $3.30 per-capita.
Money raised in the Relay and the raft of activities associated with it goes to fund cancer research, patient services and education.
The one question Relay-goers could quickly answer: Why? Most everyone in the community has been affected by cancer, whether through first-hand experience or as a family member or friend of someone with the disease, organizers said.
"That's why we see the great turnout and overall support," said Dirk Glynn of Carroll.
Glynn and his wife, Beth, served as a chaircouple for the event. The other chaircouple were Jon and Dr. Michelle Heim.
"It's been a beautiful day," Glynn said. "I think there's been a great turnout."
Glynn lost his mother, Carol Glynn of Creston, to cancer three years ago. She was 66.
Drew and Sharon Beeber of Carroll came to the Carroll Athletic Field to walk for Sharon's mother, Luella Williams, 79, of Pocahontas who has been battling oral cancer.
"She doing really well," Sharon said.
Of course, Sharon noted, Luella had 12 biological children so she has ample strength for the fight.
Sharon is an early-detection breast-cancer survivor herself. She's been clear for more than seven years.
Dick Hogan, 71, a retired counselor from Carroll High School and Des Moines Area Community College, is prostate cancer survivor. He joined the chain of hope Friday night.
"It's worth it, anything to beat cancer," said Hogan, who is a 12-year survivor.
Beth Happe of West Des Moines and a dozen of her classmates from the Kuemper Catholic High School Class of 1978 walked in honor of two late friends, Sandy Knudsen and Carol Reed who died of cancer.
"We all talked about the stories we could tell about Sandy," Happe said. "But probably the greatest thing she taught us was about living."
For Jean Guy of Carroll the Relay is a tragic anniversary. Her husband, Keith Guy, the principal of Kuemper Catholic High School, died on Relay day, June 25, 1999, of heart disease.
"His whole life was a celebration of life," Guy said.
P.J. Greteman, the advocacy chairman for the Relay, said the support for cancer research can't stop when people kick off their walking shoes or turn in their final Relay checks. He's urging people to write and talk to their lawmakers about increasing federal funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health.
"I think we'll see the effectiveness of treatments and survival rates continue to go up," Greteman, 44, said. "That's what I'm thinking we'll see in our lifetimes."
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