The American Cancer Society Relay For Life will be held in Urbana at the fairgrounds on May 19. Nineteen years ago Warren Stevens, volunteering with The American Cancer Society, decided that Champaign County needed to join forces with many other counties throughout the state and the nation to host a community event to help raise funds to find a cure for cancer. Relay For Life was established in 1985 in Washington state, and in 1999 it was established in Champaign County.
Warren Stevens was a cancer survivor and understood the need to find a cure, along with better treatment options. Cancer did not take Warren’s life from us this past year, but a tragic car accident did. We will honor his commitment to the American Cancer Society this coming Friday night, May 19 at our 5 p.m. opening ceremony. He became a great advocate for funding to and for The American Cancer Society, not only at our local level but at the State House in Columbus and in Washington DC where he lobbied many, many times to Congress and Senate for more insurance funding for cancer treatment; more money to fight this disease and find a cure. I was privileged to attend many Lobby days in Columbus and DC with Warren; he was a true follower in what he believed and was held in high esteem.
The public is invited to attend Relay For Life on May 19. Help us celebrate cancer survivors, support those who are going through any type of cancer treatment, and remember anyone who has lost their battle with this disease. We have many fun activities planned through the evening. A silent auction will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
A Luminaria ceremony begins at 9 with the lighting of the candle boxes with names. They can be purchased evening of event. We always have cancer survivors begin our opening walk. Then they are treated to a wonderful free dinner. Call 653-3723 to sign up for the dinner at 6 p.m. This year we will have our closing ceremony at 11:30 p.m.
Food vendors will be on site with many great choices to purchase food. Games will be conducted to ensure we have fun. The Just For Fun Line Dancers will perform from 6-7 p.m. The Urbana Schools bell choir will be on stage from 7-8 p.m. The Mechanicsburg band will lead us at the 5 p.m. opening ceremony.
In 1999 Warren Stevens led us around the Urbana high school track for 24 hours. We were 10 small teams raising a small amount of money to help fight cancer. As our event expanded we moved to the fairgrounds. Today we are 29 strong teams.
This year it will be very different to walk the laps and not see Warren there to sign you up to help with advocacy, or give you a wave , or take your picture. I walked 19 years ago with Warren and every year since. My team “Kelly’s Krew” walks to Remember, to Celebrate and to Fight Back, just like Warren taught and encouraged us to do over the years. May God’s peace and blessings continue to be with Mr. Stevens’ family and our community as we honor and remember Warren at Relay For Life: May 17 from 5 p.m. to midnight. Thank you Warren for all your time and experience you devoted to The American Cancer Society.
Linda Fullerton of St. Paris is a long-time advocate for cancer research.
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