Walkers put best foot forward in fight for cancer

Leader Reporter

It's called a team event to fight cancer and teams took part in big numbers Saturday for the second annual Shawano/Menominee County American Cancer Society Indoor Relay for Life.

According to Kristine Olson of the American Cancer Society, 27 teams and about 325 people participated in this year's event, which is an effort to raise money to aid in the fight against cancer.

The event raised around $35,000, said co-chair Angie Schneider of Shawano. Schneider noted the actual goal was $20,000, although she was "shooting for $40,000."

"We had a lot of people just come in and look around, spend money on the raffles and have fun," she said.

The event ran from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the gymnasium at Shawano Community High School. Shawano Mayor Russ Schmidt also proclaimed the day as Cancer Awareness Day in the city.

Schneider became involved because her 5-year-old son Kyle is a cancer survivor. She said the event has grown.

"Last year we had 10 teams," said Schneider. "This year we had three times the number of businesses and people involved. It certainly is great to see so many people willing to give their time in the fight against cancer."

Kyle is an honorary co-chair of the event, along with cancer survivor Katie Culhane, 7. Her mother, Muffy Culhane of Shawano, was the other co-chaired for the event.

To raise money, teams from various businesses have from eight to 15 members. They receive pledges from individuals or other businesses for walking in the fund raiser.

Olson and Schneider say the event is a unique celebration of life in honor and memory of those whose lives have been touched by cancer. Those who participated got to enjoy entertainment, music, food, prizes and fun.

"Those involved want to raise funds of course, but they also want to show that cancer can be defeated," said Olson.

At noon those in attendance took part in a "Bulluminary" ceremony where they took time to remember those who had lost their fight with cancer, followed by a special lap around the track for cancer survivors to show they've beat the illness.

Other activities included a massage therapist, silent auction, aerobic kick boxing classes, a basketball free throw contest, a putting contest and live music.

Margie Kloehn and Jackie Wehmeyer, both from Shawano, were part of the Shawano Medical Center team that took part in the event. They had several reasons for wanting to take part.

"I lost both my parents to cancer," said Kloehn. "I also have a brother who just learned around Thanksgiving that he would die soon, so I wanted to take part to help in the fight to find a cure for cancer."

Wehmeyer said she also had relatives who have had cancer.

"My sister has cancer and many other members of my family have been touched by it as well," said Wehmeyer.

Both feel they're doing something good to find a cancer cure or at least fight the dreaded disease.

Schneider said they are looking for more people to help organize the event for next year.

"This year there were just three people on the committee so it left a lot of work for just a few people," said Schneider. Anyone interested in helping may calle her at 745-2647.

There were many things for children to do at the relay as well. Throughout the day there were movies, face painting, clowns and coloring. There was also a raffle and a healthy scavenger hunt.

Team members munched on pizza and subs paid for primarily by a donation from the Shawano Lake Lions Club. Sysco Foods provided fruit and vegetable snacks. The food was served by staff from Carol's Diner in Bonduel.

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By Joe Vandel
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