Relay For Life was held Friday at Franklin Park. Good afternoon weather made for a large turnout during the event. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Relay For Life was held Friday at Franklin Park. Good afternoon weather made for a large turnout during the event. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Relay for Life is a whole different story, says Van Wert County’s Jim Davis, when an individual has or is experiencing cancer. Davis said that several family members have experienced some type of cancer over the years, but this year he has been treated for prostate cancer.

“It’s a little different when you go through it yourself,” said Davis, who walked in this year’s Survivor Lap. “It takes on a different meaning when you are personally affected.”

“It’s such a blessing for our community to have,” said Davis’s wife, Denise. “It’s an awesome feeling to have the support of everyone around us.”

“It’s my first time to come here as a survivor,” commented Van Wert’s Howard Shobe, who has suffered from prostate cancer. “It changes your perspective a lot. I had my first treatment last March. I’m cancer free right now.

“A decision I made in my life 10 years ago has made a difference now,” continued Shobe. “I found Christ and it made such a huge difference in my life. It made such a difference when I could turn this over to God.”

Friday evening’s event at Franklin Park had many things going for it. A day that had been damp and dreary had turned into a sunny and pleasant evening. A large number of vendors turned out to raise money for the event and be a part of it. The crowd of those attending was much larger than had been anticipated earlier in the day. All of these factors combined generated major success for the event.

In addition, the track was lined by such goodies as pizza, pulled pork sliders, various drinks, chips, cookies, popcorn and caramel corn, many to be purchased on a donation basis.

Keely Gamble, Director of Social Services for Vancrest Nursing Care, said that the fundraiser had become a community event at her facility.

“We support families, residents, and staff who have gone through or who are going through cancer,” said Gamble. “We do a raffle that is rewarded by a drawing with two vacation days.”

She noted that this year’s vacation day winners were Kim Bricker and John Geissler. She said that someone in assisted living made an Ohio State table and raffled it off. In addition, assisted living residents made paintings that were translated into note cards to sell.

“All of those who participate in this feel like they are all part of a community effort to help with this,” said Gamble. “It gives them a good feeling.”

Susie Sanderson was there as a parent of one of those dancing in a performance by Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks. She noted that she likes the fact that dancers get a chance to perform and feel like they are part of something much bigger in the fundraiser.

“I love having this at Franklin Park. It is a great place to have it,” said Sanderson. “It’s a great turnout and they just keep coming.”