Relay for Life of the Moshannon Valley is working to ‘celebrate more birthdays’

When a cancer diagnosis hits as close to home as it did for Careena Timblin, the first thing you want to do is give back and help advocate for others.

The Philipsburg resident is the captain of the Philipsburg True Value Relay for Life team.

Timblin said she started the team three years go in honor of her father, who died in 2009 of lung cancer. She said it took his life within four months of the diagnosis.

At that time, she didn’t know about Relay for Life. She was introduced to the organization by some of her co-workers at True Value hardware store.

It started with 15 people and grew to 36 team members.

“We just have a passion to give back and spread awareness,” Timblin said.

Her team’s goal was to raise $10,000 by the end of the day Saturday.

And it came with a series of fundraising efforts through the year that included two hoagie sales, two bake sales, candy bar sales and more.

The money they raised will go toward a larger fundraising goal for the Relay for Life of The Moshannon Valley to benefit the American Cancer Society and locals battling cancer.

On Saturday, 13 teams and 154 registered participants took part in the one-day event, with a goal to raise $50,000.

Event lead Kerry Slother said that by Saturday morning, $27,900 was raised — about twice as much as what the event raised that time last year.

“We hope to continue to grow, but then again it’s one of those things where we never want to be a part of this because it would mean there is no more cancer,” she said. “Until then, we’re going to continue to spread the word, and have a good time doing it.”

The event kicked off at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony and ended about midnight with a luminaria service and a closing ceremony, which recognized cancer survivors, honored those battling the disease and offered a moment of remembrance for those who have died.

“I think that’s the most emotional part and the highlight of the day,” Timblin said. “It’s something small that means a lot.”

The Moshannon Valley branch of Relay was started 15 years ago at the Philipsburg-Osceola Area High School football field.

Two years later, it moved to the Geisinger Health System facility on Medical Center Drive.

Last year 11 teams were involved, and it grew by two more teams this year.

“We want as many people to join as possible,” Slother said. “I think the work we do as a whole is helping more people become cancer free.”

This year’s theme was “Celebrating more birthdays.”

Slother said it came as a way to recognize each year lived by someone who beat cancer.

“There’s a different theme every year, but we wanted to celebrate the people who conquered it,” Slother said.

All money donated to the group will go to organizations like House of Hope, also known as the Hope Lodge of Central Pennsylvania, in Hershey that helps families with health, travel and lodging expenses while they or their loved ones are going through cancer treatment at nearby hospitals such as Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

“We want people to know it stays local and helps the people they know,” Slother said.

The goal for Moshannon Valley Relay for Life is to grow in number of participants and donations.

“We’re talking about helping teams as a whole, and doing a lot of small events that can help them,” Slother said.

A basket bingo event was held in February that raised $2,500. Proceeds were dispersed equally among teams within the Moshannon Valley Relay for Life.

“I just think we’re part of a small group that can make a big impact,” Slother said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo