Every year the American Cancer Society gives the Power of Hope Award to the relay team with the most registered survivors.
Relay for Life of Madison and Iron Counties was given this national honor for the fourth time for its work during 2018 Relay for Life.
“The Power of Hope Award is a Nationwide Award given by the American Cancer Society,” Event Lead April Sarakas said. “We earned it for having the most survivors registered for our relay.”
Sarakas said Relay for Life of Madison and Iron Counties earned this award in 2014, 2015, 2017 and now 2018.
“In 2016 we lost this award to Nemaha, Kansas by .0003 percent and we were devastated,” Sarakas said. “We decided then, that our goal would be to earn this award every year from here on out.”
Sarakas said the survivor goal has been raised every year since and the team has worked very hard to keep earning the award.
“Our survivor goal for 2019 is 330,” Sarakas said.
If you are a cancer survivor and would like to be a part of Relay for Life of Madison and Iron Counties contact Survivor Chair, Janet Wagganer at 573-783-9641
Sarakas has been the event lead since 2013 but has ties to the event since it began in 1998.
“My cancer story began when I was only five years old,” Sarakas said. “My mother, Janet Wagganer, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. At that time, I really had no idea what cancer even was.”
Sarakas said she just knew her mom had to have surgery but did not realize the severity until years later.
“After her surgery, cancer was just part of our household conversations,” Sarakas said. “Since then, my mother has had many spots of melanoma cancer removed.”
Wagganer has been involved with Relay for Life Madison of and Iron Counties since it began in 1998 and Sarakas would attend as a way to support her mother.
“After several years of her (Wagganer) asking, she finally convinced me to join the event leadership team with her,” Sarakas said. “I was part of the event leadership team for a few years when the former event lead decided to step down. That was when I knew, it was my time to step up and help find a cure for cancer.”
Sarakas said there is still time to sign up to participate.
“Teams are still forming,” Sarakas said. “They can start their own team, or the existing teams are always looking for new team members. You can also just sign up to participate, which means you just want to attend relay and enjoy yourself.”
Sarakas said every year they have people who come to the event to watch the entertainment and enjoy themselves.
If interested in participating, you can sign up at relayforlife.org/madisoncountymo or contact April Sarakas as 573-747-6690 or at email@example.com
The 2019 Relay for Life will be June 8 and the theme is “western.” Sarakas said they are super excited about it.
“Each team is planning to decorate their campsite as a western-style building of some kind,” Sarakas said. “We are also planning a large group fundraiser, which will be Jail or Bail.”
Sarakas said the idea will be to arrest specific people and they must bail out of jail. There will be a charge to arrest and a charge to bail out.
If you would like to have someone “arrested,” you can contact anyone on a team or event leadership to acquire a form. A time, date and place will be determined later.
Sarakas said relay is a way to be involved and to fight cancer from every angle.
“We are relaying to find a cure for cancer,” Sarakas said. “Over the past two decades the cancer death rate in the U.S. has dropped by 27 percent. It is hard to not love that fact.”
Sarakas said this means more than 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths between 1991 and 2016.
“I love knowing that I am a part of this statistic,” Sarakas said. “Currently the American Cancer Society is funding 746 grants, with 88 percent going to early career scientists. Your participation in Relay for Life is helping the American Cancer Society attack cancer from every angle.”
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at firstname.lastname@example.org