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Wood County unleashes Avengers against cancer at Relay for Life

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Taking a look at the luminarias for Friday’s opening of the 2017 Wood County Relay for Life are Linda Craig, right, and Derek Parsons, left, of Parkersburg. For video of this event, go to the story at newsandsentinel.com.

PARKERSBURG — Hundreds of marchers hit the trail Friday as “Avengers for a Cure” to find a cure for cancer during the 2017 Relay for Life for Wood County.

This year’s relay at Parkersburg City Park marked a return to the overnight format, from Friday night to 10 a.m. today.

Lori Ullman-Wright, co-chair of the relay, said in a meeting of team captains it was decided to go back to the old format.

Ullman-Wright said while the event got off to a dry start they were anticipating rain through the night.

“I’m hopeful we’re out of the storm,” she said. “It has been a wonderful event so far.”

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce speaks during the opening ceremonies of the Wood County Relay for Life Friday at City Park.

Bill and Bonnie Kuhn of Boaz are both cancer survivors and have been involved with the team from their church, the Peoples Church of Boaz, for three years.

Bonnie said Bill had melanoma 20 years ago and she had skin cancer five years ago.

As with previous relays the event began with the grand marshals leading a survivors lap around City Park.

This year the marshals were Mitch Lowe, of Parkersburg, and Mary Anderson, of Coolville, Ohio.

Anderson, a Parkersburg native, was diagnosed with stage four metastasized breast cancer in 2007. She was in remission in 2014 and the cancer became active again last year.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Members of the Parkersburg High School and Parkersburg South High School Jr. ROTC Color Guard lead the survivors lap.

“I see so many who are survivors, more than there have been in the past,” she said. “I see my family supporting me out there, my granddaughter, my husband, my kids. Each one of you is part of my family.

“Faith has brought me a long way. God has been merciful with me and he has made thing so abundant for me.”

Anderson said her physician told her she is the longest stage four survivor he has had in his practice in a long time.

“I told him you don’t know the God I serve,” she said. “He is my faith and my hope.”

Anderson said she is determined to see a cure for cancer in her lifetime.

“I refuse to give up,” she said. “If you have a good support system, that’s everything which I have.”

Lowe was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2002. When he was diagnosed he asked God what he should do.

“He put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘You’ll be fine son’ and he has watched over me for 15 years,” Lowe said. “I thank my friends and family for coming here; it means a lot.”

Events for this morning are:

* 6 a.m.: Reveille; Themed Lap: College Spirit (Show support for your favorite education institution) (Lap Counting Shelter)

* 6:30 a.m.: Bean Bag Tic Tac Toe and Parachute (Youth and Teen Activities Shelter)

* 7 a.m.: Austin Richter and Nick Wright Band (Main Stage)

* 8-10 a.m.: Bingo (Open to Public) (Pavilion)

* 9 a.m.: Lap Cards turned in (Lap Counting Shelter)

* 10 a.m.: Closing Ceremony (Main Stage); Team Drawings, Team and Individual Awards, General Announcements, Closing Remarks by Lori Ullmann-Wright, John Chalfant, Linda Walker and Carmen Hathaway. Benediction by Eric Seckman, Soul City Ministry.

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