Participation in relay for life triples

Photo provided

Seven-year-old Katie Culhane, left, and five-year-old Kyle Schneider will again serve as the honorary chairpersons for the second annual Shawano/Menominee County American Cancer Society Indoor Relay for Life to be held Saturday, Jan. 22 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Both youngsters are cancer survivors.

By Amy Weaver

Leader Reporter

In only a year, organizers of the second annual Shawano/Menominee County American Cancer Society Indoor Relay for Life have increased participation and donations to almost triple last year's numbers.

The second annual event will be held Saturday, Jan. 22 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Shawano Community High School gym. Mayor Russ Schmidt has proclaimed the day as Cancer Awareness Day in Shawano.

Coordinators Angie Schneider and Muffy Culhane said nearly 30 teams have registered for the event. Only 10 participated last year.

"We are hoping each year is will get bigger and bigger," said Culhane. "I think people are realizing what a wonderful event this is and what a great cause the American Cancer Society is."

She noted that 71 percent of the money raised at the relay will stay in Shawano and Menominee Counties for cancer research, education, and advocacy.

Just under $15,000 was generated last year so with triple the amount of participation this year, Schneider and Culhane are optimistic about raising over $40,000.

Both have a vested interest in the success of the event since their children serve as honorary chairpersons. Katie Culhane, 7, and Kyle Schneider, 5, have been cancer survivors for two years.

"You realize how precious life is when your child is diagnosed with cancer," Culhane said. "We are blessed to have our kids for longer than some. That's why we do this."

In looking for financial support within the community, Schneider said many businesses and individuals contributed because "their lives have been touched be cancer." She noted that although many businesses and organizations donated to the event, Shawano Medical Center and WTCH radio are the major sponsors.

Although teams of community members will be walking, running or playing for eight hours, Schneider said the public is welcome to attend as there are plenty of activities to do, such as a silent auction, games, kids area, massage therapist, aerobic kickboxing class, clowns, disk jockey, and food. The American Cancer Society will also be on hand with cancer information.

"The response from the community has been more than anticipated," she said. "It's great to see."

All cancer survivors, whether they are participating in the event or not, are invited to engage in the Survivor's Lap at 12 p.m. Cancer survivors will be wearing purple sashes.

The track in the gym will be lined with balloonimaria luminaria with balloons to stand in the memory of those who died from cancer and in honor of those that survived. They can be purchased until noon Saturday, when the Survivor's Lap begins. Ninety balloons were sold last year.

"We want cancer survivors to come and to celebrate with us," Schneider said.

Besides the increase in business involvement, she added that more student teams are involved this year too.

"I think it's more important that these kids are donating their time than their money for the cause," Schneider said.

If any business or individual would still like to make a donation to the Relay for Life, contact Schneider at 745-2647 or Culhane at 526-5251. There will be a collection bowl for donations at the event Saturday.

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