January 8, 2009

Helping find a cure, one step at a time

By Danielle Abbott

Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases on earth, taking the lives of nearly 564,000 people every year. It is a terrifying statistic, but even more horrifying when you realize that it affects McLean County just as strongly as the rest of the world. Twenty-five years ago the Relay for Life was started, as a celebration of the lives of people who have battled cancer, and a remembrance of the loved ones lost. Today, it is the world’s largest nonprofit fundraising event, taking over the nation and drawing survivors, families and friends together with the common goal of standing up to cancer. For four years the Relay for Life took place in Washburn, drawing upon community members to stand up and fight against the disease that takes too much. The relay began to take flight, eventually outgrowing the town and leading into a rotation of the event with Garrison and Turtle Lake. Garrison hosted the successful 2008 relay, which had 33 teams with eight to 15 members per team. Also attending the relay were more than 100 cancer survivors from McLean County alone. Due to the rotation, Washburn will host the event this year, and the coordinators are pulling upon all of the communities to join in on the countywide fight. When the relay is hosted in a specific town it draws more teams from that host community, but this year’s event chair Emily Retterath wants those from all areas of the county to make the short drive and show their support. "It is a McLean County relay. It is important to be supportive of each other. It’s not a competition between towns, it is all for the same cause, we are just taking turns hosting it. We’re all doing it for the same reason, but we have to work together to do that and reach our goal," Retterath said.

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