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A celebration of remembrance and hope

PARK HILLS — After months of planning and organizing, along with lots of hard work and more than a few tears, the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of St. Francois County is about to begin.

The rally takes place from 6 p.m. Friday evening to 6 a.m. Saturday morning on the Mineral Area College campus in Park Hills. After registration at 5 p.m., the opening ceremony starts at 7 p.m. with the presentation of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 483. This will be followed by the singing of the national anthem by Shelly Odle and invocation brought by Deacon Mark Byington, St. Joseph Church of Bonne Terre.

Special speakers will include MAC President Steven Kurtz, Missouri Rep. Linda Black and past RFL chairman, Carolyn Tyler.

Presentation of the Mike Dealy Spirit and Norma Clauser awards will be followed by the recognition of cancer survivors as they make the first lap of the evening around the course.

After completion of the Survivors Lap the Luminaria Ceremony begins — arguably the most touching and memorable part of the evening.

According to the ACS, it is “a ceremony of remembrance and hope and a way to honor survivors and those who have lost the battle to cancer. It is a time to grieve for those who have been lost and to reflect on one’s own or loved ones’ cancer experience, and to find hope that tomorrow holds the promise of a cancer-free world.”

Throughout the evening there will be a number of fun activities, along with special laps that include the Walk with a Parent-Child Lap, Walk with a Sibling Lap, Super Hero Theme Lap, Sports Theme Lap, Big Hair Lap, Formal Lap, Sweetheart Lap, Halloween Lap, Patriotic Lap, Pajama Lap and Early Bird’s Lap.

A total of 28 teams are participating in this year’s RFL. They are: BJC Home Care Services, Bosom Buddies, Breast Friends, Bud’s Believers, Cancer Stompers, Casey’s Crusaders, Castaway Cancer, FAFAC: Friends and Family Against Cancer, Friends 4 Life, Helping Hands, J.D. Street and Company, Jones-ing for a Cure, King’s Court, LEADCO Raising For a Cure, License to Cut Cancer, Lifesavers, MARMC (Miracles Are Ready Meet The Cure), Myranda’s P.A.L.S., Save-A-Life, Saving Second Base, Staff of Serenity Hospice Care, Survivor’s For Life, Team Accent, Team MAC, The Boulevard, The Classroom, Turner Chevrolet/Cadillac and Walgreens-Farmington.

Final monies raised will be turned in to be counted towards each team’s total at 2 a.m. during the relay. The event will end at 6 a.m. with a closing ceremony to mark the conclusion of this year’s effort.

RFL Chairperson Tara Gann said, “I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the committee and myself to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for everyone’s efforts in making this years’ RFL a huge success. It is because of all the hardworking and dedicated participants and community that we are able to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The funds raised throughout this past year and at this weekend’s relay will help keep the mission of the American Cancer Society going strong.”

According to the ACS, its research program has invested approximately $3 billion in research nationally since 1946. The organization says it provides:

• Advocacy – Thousands of ACS volunteers serve as grassroots advocates working at the local, state and federal levels to make a difference in the lives of those facing cancer.

• Reach to Recovery – Breast cancer survivors offer one-to-one support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

• Personal Care Items – Free wigs and breast prostheses.

• Man to Man program helps men and their families cope with prostate cancer by providing information and peer support to assist in the recovery process.

• Look Good…Feel Better teaches female cancer patients beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-confidence during cancer treatments.

• Road to Recovery – Trained volunteers will drive patients to and from cancer treatments.

• I Can Cope – A series of educational classes provide support for people with cancer, their families and friends.

• Camp Sunrise – A camp for kids with cancer and their families.

• Hope Lodge – Provides free housing for patients receiving treatment away from home.

Members of the 2012 RFL Planning Committee are Tara Gann, chairperson/activities; Brian Boyer, logistics; Jim and Judy Gillam, corporate sponsorship; Arlene and Dale Jones, luminaria; Judy Sherrill, survivorship; Jessica Crepps, secretary; Katie Dickerson and Kim Fortner, team development; Wesley Straughn, food and beverage; Charlie Berry, sound/music/entertainment; Tami Roberts, small business signs; Kevin Jenkins and Mark Toti, public relations/marketing; Marcie and Becky Mueller, cleanup; Lauren Schweiss, ACS staff partner; Dave Bahr, committee mentor; and Glenda Straughn and Katie Dickerson, survivor dinner chairs.

Corporate sponsors for this year’s RFL are J98 The Boot, BUNZL, Parkland Health Center, Walgreens, Mineral Area Regional Medical Center, Elks Lodge No. 1765, A&W, Mineral Area College, Cardinals, Long John Silver’s, ACCENT, Belgrade State Bank, Benham Street Grill, Botkin Lumber Co., Bruce Griffon’s Trailer Town Inc., Crown Motors, Grand Rental Station, Midwest Sports, Music Unlimited Sound System, Ozark Federal Savings & Loan, Park Hills Rivermart, Prairie Farms Dairy, Show-Me-Rent-to-Own and Ultimate Paintball.

Also, AmerenUE, Bahr’s Lawn Service, Casey’s General Store, Catfish Kettle Restaurant, Chelly Odle Band, Coldwell Banker-Hulsey Real Estate, Complete Vision Care, Concessionaire Extraordinaire, CZ Boyer & Sons Funeral Homes, Elizabeth Hall, Farmington First State Bank, F.L. Porter’s Wholesale Produce, Fresh & Clean Restrooms, H.E. Williams Termite & Pest Control, Hub’s Pub LLC, Hubbard Construction & General Contracting, Inc, Huskey’s Feed, Johnson Distributors, Lead Belt Materials, Lead Co. Community Credit Union, Little Caesars Pizza, Medley’s Ice, Meineke Car Care Center, PRI Custom Catering, Proffer Wholesale Produce, Sam Scism Ford Motors, Inc., Smith Motor Freight, Straughn Farms & Properties, The Family Center and The Sheriff’s Band.

Kevin R. Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 114 or at

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