Relay For Life returns

The annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society returns Saturday at Riverside Park. The event will be moved indoors to avoid heat.

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July 8, 2021 - 10:05 AM

The 2019 Allen County Relay For Life to benefit the American Cancer Society draws a large crowd. Register file photo

The Annual Allen County Relay For Life returns this weekend featuring its traditional events including a survivor dinner, live auction, luminaries and a Survivor Walk. 

It takes place from noon to midnight on Saturday at the recreation center in Riverside Park.

Last year’s event was virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the 25th anniversary of the local event, which raises money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

Denise Smith has been part of it for almost all of that time.

She first participated in honor of her grandparents, who both had cancer. Her grandfather had prostate cancer and her grandmother had leukemia.

She brought her children to Relay for Life every year, making it a family event and instilling in them the desire to get involved and help others.

But it became even more personal in 2008, when her son, Jacob, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. He died 13 months later.

“We tried everything. We went to Children’s Mercy, even took him to St. Jude’s,” Smith said. “That’s why I do it, really. To raise money so (researchers) can keep trying to find the right drugs.”

In her son’s honor, the family has formed “Team Jacob.”

Her experience isn’t unique, though.

Most of those who are responsible for bringing Relay For Life to Allen County have some sort of personal experience with cancer. 

“Every one of them has been around it or had it themselves,” Smith said. “It does change your perspective.”

Smith said she encourages everyone to take advantage of health screenings, everything from prostate to breast exams to skin checks. 

SATURDAY’S event will be indoors to avoid the heat.

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