By Mike Fletcher
---- — With her family by her side, Sandra Wilson, a member of Team Hope and a two-time cancer survivor, endured the 24-hour Relay for Life so she could help others.
“The whole family came out to walk to support me,” Wilson said Saturday. Wilson was attending the closing of the 18th annual event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“I can’t express how that felt,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “From the survivor walk to the releasing of the balloons – it was really amazing. I love it and can’t wait to do it again next year.
“We stayed up all 24 hours and we’re exhausted,” she said surrounded by her family.
“They had all kinds of activities during the night. It was fun.”
As of Saturday, the 91 teams and 976 participants raised more than $152,000, short of its $237,000 goal, said Cara Roach, community representative for the Howard County American Cancer Society.
Roach said they have until Aug. 31 to meet that goal with teams participating in other fundraisers.
Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature event that raises funds and awareness for cancer research and patient programs.
Teams of family, friends and co-workers camped out, each taking turns walking the track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times, a reminder that cancer never sleeps.
“This community is so supportive,” said Roach.
For the 16 years prior to the 2012 edition, the event was held at the Kokomo High School track on South Berkley Road.
They decided to move the event to the more spacious fairgrounds last year.
“I think we started to outgrow the high school,” said Erynn O’Neill, who works for the Relay for Life committee.
“Some people miss the authenticity of having at the high school. Change is hard for some people. The teams like it,” she said. “They have water and electricity and they are allowed to have campfires.”
Plus, she said they didn’t have to pay for using the property as they did at the high school.
“The [Greentown] Lions Club and the 4H people have been so accommodating and helpful,” said Mindi Conaway, event chair person for the Howard County Relay for Life.