West Sussex Relay for Life committee sets 10th anniversary goal of $165,000. Two gifts of $8,500 help kick off fund-raising event during rally at Gethsemane Church

By Carol Kinsley

The West Sussex Relay for Life celebrated 10 years of fund-raising for the American Cancer Society at its kickoff for the 2008 event, which is scheduled for May 9 and 10 at Woodbridge Sports Complex in Greenwood. More than 180 people, young and old, from all walks of life gathered to register teams at Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Reliance on Wednesday, Jan. 30. All were touched by cancer or knew someone who had been. One couple had 50 years of survival to celebrate. Renee Griffith, co-chair of the 2008 event, announced a local goal of $165,000 to go toward research and finding more cures for cancer. "One day there will be a cure, but until then, we will continue to work," Griffith vowed. In 2007, Relay for Life efforts around the world raised more than $405 million. The event also spreads awareness of cancer prevention, treatments and cures and celebrates survivorship. Survivors are honored in the opening lap of the Relay. Lighted luminaria honor survivors or commemorate the lives of those who have been lost to this disease. The West Sussex Relay committee presented recognition to Kate Baltz for her passion and involvement in the American Cancer Society. Baltz, whose father had been principal at Seaford High School before his death from a brain tumor, had tagged along with her mother at earlier relays, but got really involved during her junior year. She was chair of the student government's team that year, then in her senior year was instrumental in opening participation to the whole student body. Events such as "Kiss a Pig," where students voted with their cash which teacher would have to do the kissing at a pep rally, helped the team raise $10,000. Baltz is now attending the University of Delaware and is team captain of the "Lifesavers" team whose theme is "Cruise away from Cancer." She expressed delight in finding another group to join where the relay is as highly valued as it is in Seaford.

To help jump-start the relay, two "Hope" sponsors each presented a check for $8,500. Both are returning major sponsors. Employees of Trinity Transport Inc., headquartered in Seaford, have organized as Trinity Foundation and made the first presentation. Headquartered in Federalsburg, Md., H&M Bay Inc., a transportation company founded by Walter Messick and Lawrence Hayman, also donated $8,500. The American Cancer Society asks each individual participant to raise $100 and each team to bring in $1,000. Some teams not only solicit outright sponsors but conduct fundraisers such as selling Valentine chocolates, selling handmade items such as quilts, or conducting scrapbook-making workshops. Information on some of these efforts are posted on the website. Stephanie Feyler, ACS community specialist, noted that the West Sussex kickoff had attracted more people than any other kickoff she knew of. Challenging participants to "Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back," she noted that the American Cancer Society also provides patient services including free transportation on the "Road to Recovery," camps and scholarships for children who are cancer survivors and clinical trial matching. Doreen Matt-Marshall amused and touched the audience with a description of her battle with breast cancer 12 years ago, starting with a poem about getting rid of her pantyhose. She explained that after her surgery she re-evaluated what was important in her life and what was not, and made some changes, starting with throwing her pantyhose into the trash. Despite chemotherapy treatments, she earned her college degree with an excellent attendance record and a 4.0 average. At age 40, she said, "I met a man who sees me, not my scars," and she remarried. Cancer patients need a strong support system, Matt-Marshall said. For her, it was a friend, a nurse, who went with her to appointments and picked her up the day after surgery with a half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream and a tablespoon waiting in the car. Matt-Marshall described the Relay for Life as "the most amazing experience of my life" and said she will continued to do it "as long as God allows." She added that the next day, Jan. 31, was her 50th birthday. Teams can still register for Relay for Life using the event website, www.events. cancer.org/rflwestsussex. For help in registering, contact Marge Gordon, the on-line chair, at RelayForLife@mchsi.com or by telephone at (302) 947-1789.

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