Relay for Life raises more than $65K

Photo by Becky Polaski – Members of the 13 teams participating in this year’s Relay for Life of Elk County joined together for a team lap following Saturday morning’s opening ceremony.
By: 
Becky Polaski
Staff Writer

KERSEY — Walkers began making laps at Fox Township Community Park in Kersey at 10 a.m. Saturday morning as the 2018 Relay for Life of Elk County got underway. However, it was not until an hour later that attendees gathered near the park’s stage for the official opening ceremony for the 12-hour event.
Bill Babik, event chairperson, acted as the master of ceremonies for the brief opening ceremony, expressing his gratitude to the members of the 13 teams participating in the event, and announcing that together they had raised more than $65,000.
“Our relay represents a community coming together for one reason, and that’s to fight cancer,” Babik said. “We are here so that those who face cancer will be supported, and we are also here so that those who face cancer and those who have lost their battle will not be forgotten and one day cancer will be eliminated. That’s our goal and we’re making progress every day.”
Following the singing of the national anthem by Anna Hoyt, Susan Fox, pastor of First Lutheran Church in Ridgway, took to the stage to give an opening prayer for the event. Fox noted that the occasion also marked her first trip to Kersey.
During her brief prayer, Fox asked for a blessing upon the Relay for Life of Elk County as community members gathered to honor cancer survivors, uplift caregivers and remember loved ones, and she also asked for healing for all currently in treatment battling the disease.
Babik then took a few moments to highlight all of the event sponsors and express his appreciation to them for the support they provide. He also acknowledged many of the volunteers who donate their time to make the Relay for Life a success each year. Those individuals include Adam Wehler, Rebecca Schatz, Roben Daghir, Perry Beimel, Brian Reid, Kathy Youngmark, Darlene Buttery, Serena Schatz, Kari Ryan, Peggy Loveless, Marcy Lavella, Barbie Simbeck and Betty Polaski.
The final group that Babik singled out were the captains of each of the 13 Relay teams.
“The team captain is extremely important,” Babik said. “She or he is the person who is responsible for both actively recruiting people to be on the team and also for encouraging them to raise funds. We really, truly appreciate all the team captains and all their efforts.”
This year’s captains and their teams were as follows: Barbie Simbeck, CUREsaders; Betty Polaski, Curves Purple Power; Sharon Streich, Domtar Paper; Emily Miller and Kendra Smithbauer, Elk County Catholic High School; Kelli Hall, Elk County Veterinary Clinic; Serena Schatz, Golden Hearts; Stacy Kelly, Inspired by Hope; John Glantz and Judy Lilja, Jewels of Hope; Karen Hutton, Josh N Around; Dani Wickett, Mountain Laurel FCU; Patricia Pfeufer, Phaztech Angels; Bill Babik and Brian Reid, Spirit Of Hope; and Peggy Loveless and Sue Anderson, Spirit of Walmart.
Once all of the team captains were announced, members of all of the teams were encouraged to participate in a special team lap to kick off the event.
A special survivor luncheon was held at noon, followed by a survivor ceremony at 1 p.m. and a lap by all of the survivors present. The event officially wrapped up at 10 p.m.

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