Dawson County fights back against cancer
Relay For Life honors survivors, victims, raises money for cure
When Ryan Groene was diagnosed with testicular cancer 12 years ago, he said it was pretty scary.The Gothenburg Junior High principal and curriculum coordinator, said he hates that people still have to hear the word “cancer.”
Groene, who spoke Saturday morning at the Dawson County Relay For Life at Lake Helen, pointed to two signs erected for the fund-raising and educational event.
One said “Relatively Speaking, Cancer Sucks” and the other spelled “Hope.”
“Cancer really does suck,” Groene said. “It has the ability, in hearing you have cancer, to strike fear in you. It’s amazing and intense because it’s immediate.
“That part of it sucks. I hate that people still have to hear those words, that they still have to fight.”
Having both of the signs there was poignant to Groene.
“That’s why we’re all here,” he said.
At the relay, which was Friday evening and Saturday morning, he said hope surrounds those affected by cancer.
He pointed to more than 1,000 bags placed along the sidewalk, where people walked, that remember survivors and those who have died.
“My hope is that hope comes from these things,” Groene said. “The relay is not about fear and sadness but about hope that we are making a difference.”
His hope is that money raised during events like the Relay For Life someday will help find a cure for cancer.
“So that when you’re diagnosed, you know this is what you have and what you’re going to do and that youre going to be fine,” Groene said.
Event organizer Pam Ackerman of Lexington noted that Dawson County residents and businesses have been part of a worldwide army to beat cancer by supporting the American Cancer Society’s mission to help people get well, stay well, find cures and fight back.
“It is our hope to see the day when no one has to hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’ ” Ackerman said.
The event raised $74,477 and had 14 teams with 236 participants.
With a goal of $80,000, money is still being accepted.
Ackerman said donors can contact her at 308-324-2230 or finance chair Julie McNett of Cozad at 308-784-4658 or any of the team captains.
Highlights of the relay for Ackerman included:
The opening lap that included 37 cancer survivors led by honorary chairs Karla Ricely and Jane Norseen, both of Gothenburg. Caregivers met their loved ones at the halfway mark and finished the lap together.
Honorary chair Cynthia Fisher of Moorefield was unable to attend because of her critical health but the Fighting For Fisher team from Gothenburg Memorial Hospital walked a lap together in her honor.
After their lap, a group of 50-plus team members and family members released teal and white balloons in a show of support and love.
In spirit, Fisher made it through the relay with her team but died at 8:17 a.m. Saturday.
During the cleanup, the teal balloons on the stage were set free.
Team captain Heidi Galas of Gothenburg watched the skies and said “Look, the balloons are just hanging there in the sky.”
Later, Ackerman recalled that Galas said Fisher “made it through the last lap with us. I think she made it just in time to catch those balloons too.”
Dancers with the Gothenburg Dance Centre made this year’s luminaria ceremony extra special with an interpretative dance to the Rascal Flatts hit song “Skin.”
Marilyn Hueftle of Lexington shared her relay memories of the past 17 years she has been part of the event. Hueftle received the most votes for the 2014 Relay Spirit Award.
A Lip Dub Show that featured teams performing a lip sync video on the big screen. The crowd showed their enthusiasm by clapping and singing along.
Results of fund raising and those involved include:
Top 5 teams—WCSG Garden of Hope, $16,995.35; FCCLA Pink Ladies, $9,395.40; Fighting For Fisher $5,937.74; R.S.C.S./Cool Kids, $4,702.76; Care’n For the One You Love, $3,514.25
Top Five Teams at Bank Night—Walkin’ the Planks, Warriors of Hope, Lexington Regional Health Center, Bunko Babes and WCSG Garden of Hope. A grand total of $10,855 was turned in at Bank Night
Team Fundraising Awards
Rising Star, $1,000 level—Petersons Supermarket; Warriors of Hope; Lexington Regional Health Center; Grace Lutheran Church
Bronze, $2,500 level—Care-N For The One You Love; Walkin’ the Planks; Church Ladies; Bunko Babes; Holy Walkamolies
Silver, $3,500 level—RSCS (Relatively Speaking Cancer Sucks)/Cool Kids
Gold, $5,000—Fighting For Fisher
Platinum, $7,500—FCCLA Pink Ladies
Sapphire, $15,000—Women’s Cancer Support Group Garden of Hope
The GRAND Club members in 2014 raised $17,301.62—Brenda Bierman, Bea King, Stephanie Ricley, Christina Wagener, Hailey Wagener, Julie McNett, Marilyn Hueftle, Chris Barnes, Janice Lichtenwalter, Verla Montey, Bonnie Hansen, Peggy Butler, Pam Ackerman
Bunko Babes—Marilyn Hueftle
Care-N For The One You Love—Tonya Weatherly
Church Ladies—Julie McNett
FCCLA Pink Ladies—Blanca Prado, Bonnie Hansen, Triteny Werner
Fighting For Fisher—Heidi Galas, Deb Dike
Grace Lutheran—Richard Johnson & Roger Pentz
Holy Walkamolies—Steph Ricley & Roni Putnam
Knights of Hope—Christopher Davis
Lexington Regional Health Center—Kirsten Faessler, Kristina Bergmark
Peterson’s Supermarket—Jennifer Norseen
R.S.C.S. (Relatively Speaking Cancer Sucks)—Chris Barnes & Candi Sartin
Walkin’ The “Planks”—Karla Ricley
Warriors of Hope—April Headley, Elizabeth Walters
W.C.S.G. Garden of Hope—Pam Ackerman
Chairperson—Pam Ackerman, Lexington
Survivors & Caregivers—Chris & Lynn Barnes, Candi Sartin, Cozad
Accounting—Julie McNett, Cozad
Luminaria—April Headley & Mallory Headley, Eustis
Logistics—Stephanie Ricley, Gothenburg & Holy Walkamolies team
OnLine—Candi Sartin, Cozad & Mike Wolff, Gothenburg
Missions /Meeting Refreshments—Chrissy & Hailey Wagener, Lexington
Advocacy—Richard Johnson, Lexington
Entertainment—Mike & Chris Wolff, Gothenburg
Activities—Jeremy & Elizabeth Walters, Eustis
Silent Auction—Roger & Sandy Anderson, Brady with Performance Truck & Trailer
Miss Relay—FCCLA Pink Ladies, Cozad
Locks of Love—Michelle Brodd, Cozad
Announcer—Jennifer Norseen, Gothenburg
Decorations—Heidi Galas, Gothenburg
Photography—Marilyn Hueftle, Lexington; Tim White, Overton
Corporate Sponsors—$10,007 total
Sword of Hope $1,000 and above—Car Bar Cattle Co.; Orthman Family Foundation; ServiceMaster of Mid-Nebraska; Lexington Regional Health Center
Platinum $500-$999—The Feed Store; Davis Family Dental; Homestead Bank; Ag West Feed & Supply
Gold $250-$499—First Bank & Trust Co; Pony Express Chevrolet; RTI Computer Sales & Services; Orthman Manufacturing; Arlan Ackerman Construction; Plum Creek Motors; Lexington Clipper-Herald; Barmore Drug Store
Silver $100-$249—First State Bank, Gothenburg; Gothenburg State Bank; D&D Feedlot ; BHA Real Estate LLC; Holdrege Irrigation Inc.; Downey Drilling Inc; Daniel D McClenahan DDS PC; Dairy Queen; Randy’s & Brian’s Towing
Bronze $50-$99—Drive-In Videos; Gothenburg Times; Baldwin Filters; Wes Lubberstedt; Chesters Antiques Home & Garden; Rick-Trampe Farm Bureau Insurance
In-Kind Sponsors—Culligan; Tyson