Hundreds walk in Civitan Park for Washington County Relay for Life

Photo by Wayne Towner Cancer survivors walk the first lap of the 2018 Washington County Relay for Life at Civitan Park in Belpre, before being joined by caregivers and team members. Teams walked overnight for the Relay to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

BELPRE — Hundreds of cancer survivors, caregivers, friends, families and supporters turned out Friday evening at Civitan Park in Belpre to kick off the 2018 Washington County Relay for Life.

The Washington Relay was scheduled to continue through the night and will end with final activities leading up to the closing ceremony at 10 a.m. today at Civitan Park, with funds supporting the American Cancer Society.

Tracy Barnhouse, community development manager for the American Cancer Society’s Washington County Relay for Life, said 51 teams registered for the event, which began Friday afternoon with the Survivors Dinner.

“This is my first year here. I’ve been a volunteer for about 10 years. I live in Noble County and this is my fourth Relay season with the American Cancer Society,” she said.

“It’s wonderful,” she said of the Washington County event. “There’s a lot of people out here already. The weather has held off for us and it’s been a very nice day. Setup has been really easy and we have a wonderful group of volunteers.”

Photo by Wayne Towner The theme for this year’s Washington County Relay for Life was “Blast Cancer to the Moon” and featured a variety of rocket-themed displays and decorations.

All of the survivors were asked to gather at the park gazebo for group pictures, along with team captains and caregivers leading into the opening ceremony at 7 p.m. After recognition of supporters, sponsors and others by Relay organizers, many of the survivors and caregivers kicked off the Relay portion of the event by leading the Survivors Lap, followed by the Survivors and Caregivers Lap.

This year’s adult marshals are Judy and Tim Best and the children’s marshal is Hazel Miller.

Following the opening ceremonies at the gazebo, the teams settled in for a night of walking laps along the fitness trail in Civitan Park. A variety of activities, games and entertainment were scheduled for Friday night and into the morning hours today. The lap walking was halted for a brief time at 9:30 p.m. Friday for the Luminaria Service, a longtime tradition of all Relays.

This year’s theme is “Blast Cancer to the Moon” with rocket ships and stars figuring prominently in the displays and decorations by the teams.

The Washington County Relay draws a number of returning teams each year, along with new teams of people wanting to help with the battle against cancer.

Photo by Wayne Towner Sheila Kruger, left, of Belpre, and Barbara Morrow, right, of Marietta, walk Friday evening as part of the Washington County Relay for Life at Civitan Park in Belpre.

One longtime team at the Washington County Relay is Team Miller Family and Friends, with co-captains Linda Miller and her daughter, Mindy Niceswanger.

Miller said this is the 22nd year the team has participated, beginning the second year Washington County held a Relay event. She learned about Relay for Life when a man spoke to the 4-H group she was adviser for.

“It was so exciting. We needed to find a cure for cancer and I wanted to get the youth involved with community projects. That’s how we got started,” she said, adding the team of family and friends has returned year after year.

“We’ve got to find that cure for cancer, we’ve got to beat it,” Miller said.

One of the new teams at this year’s Relay was Team Interim, formed by Interim Health Care in Marietta. Team member Erica Gray said the team was formed because Interim Health Care wants to be more involved in the community.

Photo by Wayne Towner Melissa Tuttle, one of the performers at this year’s Washington County Relay for Life, sings a song as part of the opening ceremony Friday evening at Civitan Park in Belpre.

“We thought this would be a great cause,” she said, adding they hope to remain involved in the future.

“It’s nice to see everybody get together and do something for a great cause,” Gray said.