Relay for Life in Centre Hall raises awareness, funds

bmilazzo@centredaily.comJune 29, 2013 

— A group of men had no shame parading in women’s clothes Saturday morning for a good cause.

“I may have lost my man card for the time being, but when you’re doing something fun and for a good cause that’ll make people laugh, then not a whole lot other than that, matters,” Mark Widrick said of his attire during the Relay for Life of Happy Valley at the Grange fairgrounds.

Relay for Life is a 24-hour nationwide event that spreads awareness and raises money for the American Cancer Society.

Relay for Life of Happy Valley, in its ninth year, has raised $1 million overall. On Saturday, the event included an opening ceremony, live entertainment, survivor bingo and other activities for the “Wipeout Cancer” beach theme.

Chairwoman Sherri Cramer said organizers hope to raise $225,000 this year. As of Saturday afternoon, the count was already at $161,281 and rising.

“We relay for hope that there will someday be a cure for this that impacts everyone in some way,” Cramer said.

Cramer said she has a long history of cancer in her family, including her aunt Wanda Hockenberry, who is a two-year survivor of melanoma. Hockenberry is on the the Relay for Life of Happy Valley committee.

Cramer said this year’s event featured 600 participants and 37 teams. Among them was Carol Findley, who has been a part of Relay for Life for 14 years and is a 21-year survivor of cancer. She said her team from Penn State’s Shields Building raised more than $6,000 this year.

Findley said she is thankful that more than a decade ago, money raised for the American Cancer Society helped researchers determine that cancer was hereditary for her.

“I hope research money can at least do the same for others,” Findley said, “and people can be aware of what’s in their genes and target cancer head on.”

Findley said she lost her father to cancer when she was 8 months old, and her brother years later.

“It feels like a death sentence when you’re diagnosed. For my father there was not hope for him. He had maybe a year, but now there is hope,” Findley said.

The theme for participants was to celebrate the cancer survivors, remember those who passed and fight back for those who are battling the illness.

“It brings awareness, and allows people to be interactive and inspired by others’ stories,” Findley said. “I can say that none of us will ever back down.”

Relay for Life of Happy Valley will continue Sunday until 10 a.m. with live entertainment and a closing ceremony that will include a final lap.

For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/pahappyvalley.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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