Focus on Fostoria - June_25_03

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Fostoria Focus
June 25, 2003

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Fostoria's 2003 Relay for Life?
That's the $122,000 Question

By Leonard Skonecki

Goals. Achieving them is one of life's important satisfactions.

That means the Fostoria leg of the 2003 Seneca County Relay For Life has something to be very satisfied about. Relay co-chair Barb Carlo announced the event raised over $122,000 for the American Cancer Society.

"Last year we raised over $114,000," said Barb. "This year we had a very lofty goal and we raised over $122,000. Everyone here did it. I'm overwhelmed."

The goal was ambitious, $121,000 in the face of a tough economy that might cause people to tighten their giving.

"When you talk about cancer and the things the American Cancer Society does and the lives they touch with the money you raise, people will give," Barb said.

Barb's co-chair this year was Jane Gerritson. Forty-one teams took part in this year's event.

Gene Kinn served as emcee for the opening ceremonies. There was a welcome from Fostoria Mayor John Davoli.

Assisting Gene as celebrity emcee was the morning and noon news anchor for Toledo's Channel 13, Jeff Smith.

"One of the things about working for a TV station is that you do a lot of community events dealing with struggles that a lot of us really can't appreciate," Jeff said. "But when you come out to the events like this, people have stories you've never heard before on how they deal with life and it's really an inspiration."

Once again Honeywell/UAW Local 533 was a Platinum Relay sponsor. David Angles is a 533 trustee.

"All of us at Autolite feel the Relay For Life is a wonderful event and the donation is going to a good cause, the American Cancer Society," he said. "We hope that someday the American Cancer Society, with the help of this community's generous donations can rid the world of this horrendous disease that affects so many of our family members and friends."

Michael Gregory is Honeywell's director of health, safety and employee wellness.

He told the participants that worldwide, the Relay For Life has grown from a single doctor in Tacoma, Wash., to an event that takes place at 3,800 sites in the U.S. and nine foreign countries, involves 2 million participants, and has raised over $200 million.

"We're proud and honored to be part of such a great community event - Whether you are a survivor, volunteer or care giver, you do make a difference," he said.

Fostoria Community Hospital, a Gold Plus sponsor, was represented by president and CEO Tim Jakacki.

"The Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated. Two years ago, it was also my privilege to be here as well," Tim said.

"It was truly one of the most humbling experiences I've had to see a community like Fostoria come out and to rally for those individuals as well as a cause as great as this," he said.

Monica Aldrich spoke to the audience about her experience at Hope Lodge in Cleveland while her husband, Doug, was treated at Cleveland Clinic for Hodgkin's Disease.

She and her mother-in-law were able to stay at Hope Lodge free of charge for four weeks. The lodge is entirely funded by donations.

"Cancer is something so unexpected and disastrous when it hits," she said. "I'm so thankful that there are organizations like Hope Lodge that allowed me the convenience of focusing on my husband instead of worrying where I would stay to be close to him or how I could ever afford it. Charity fund-raisers like this one helped me and my family and others worldwide."

Relay participants compete for many awards. Best banner - Fostoria Benefit Design. Best campsite - Good Shepherd Home. Best T-shirts - St. Catherine's Care Center. Team spirit - Gray Printing. Most money per capita raised by a family - Reinhart Family. Most money per capita by a corporation - Charter Steel. Most money raised per capita by a school, church or organization - Angels of Hope. Most money raised per capita by a business - Fostoria Plumbing and Heating. Most money raised per capita by a youth team - Cancer Busters. Most money raised by an adult - Cindy Swartz. Most money raised by a youngster - Theresa Reinhart.

As always the 10 pm luminary ceremony is a highlight of the Relay. This year's speaker was Helen Bateson.

A diagnosis of melanoma in 1979 changed her life. She was given only months to live.

She found hope in a doctor who offered a risky operation with no guarantees. She endured a four-month separation from her two children. She's had 14 tumors removed and been cut fro her throat to knees. She has a pelvic bone in her arm.

She also has a joke.

"I have enough scars to make myself a prime candidate to become a map of the United States," she said.

Finally, she lost her father at age 52. He'd sent her poinsettias when she was recovering, unaware Helen didn't like poinsettias.

"That's why I do the Relay For Life each year," Helen said, "to pay tribute to my father. Hope - there is hope. Cancer is treatable. Cancer is beatable Cancer is a new appreciation of life."