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Rain forces Wood County Relay for Life schedule change; Washington County walks at Civitan Park

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Cancer survivors led the first two laps, lined up from one year or less cancer free to 15 years or more cancer free, at Washington County’s 25th annual Relay for Life at Civitan Park in Belpre.

PARKERSBURG — People gathered to celebrate the Roaring Twenties for Wood and Washington counties’ Relay for Life events on Friday.

This year Wood County was celebrating 26 years at the Parkersburg City Park, and Washington County was celebrating 25 years at the Civitan Park in Belpre.

Although the forecast was calling for rain and thunder, causing Wood County to reschedule most of its events to today, the evening was warmer and not rainy.

“I have walked in a lot of rain. It is historically rainy for relay,” said Gail Stoops, one of the grand marshals for Wood County.

“This is the first year that we have ever rescheduled events,” said Carmen Hathaway, the Senior Community Development Manager for the American Cancer Society.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough The Wood County Relay for Life’s Survivor Dinner was Friday night at Parkersburg City Park.

Even with rescheduled events, a small opening ceremony was held in Wood County.

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce spoke at the Wood County Relay for Life, thanking those who had helped bring the event together and congratulating the survivors.

Stoops and Mike Hayden, the other grand marshal for Wood County, told their stories and what it meant to them to be a survivor.

“Made a lot of speeches in my career,” Hayden said, “but I have no idea how best to start one here, with a topic that affects everyone.”

Hayden said that throughout his football career, he had been hit by a lot of things.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Pillows were made by Rhonda Blair, the survivorship chair, and other teams out of old T-shirts for survivors to take home.

“But nothing has hit me as hard as when I heard that word, that I had the Big C; it really hit me and knocked me down,” he said.

Washington County did not reschedule its events.

“This park is the heartbeat of our city, and today it is a place of hope,” said Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz.

Lorentz said that although it is always a pleasure to see everyone come together for a cause, he hopes to live long enough to see a world that doesn’t need to walk for a cure, because one is found.

Ginger McConnell, the opening ceremony emcee, brought up that Relay is about the community coming together.

Grand marshal Becky Pritchett talked about her recent fight with cancer. In the crowd with her were her mother and husband, who are both cancer survivors as well.

“It’s been a long road, but I am now one year cancer free,” she said.

The junior grand marshal for this year, 6-month-old Jensen Ford, was unable to attend but his parents, Allie and Jason Ford, and two sisters, Chloe Ford, 3, and Madisyn Ford, 8, were there to represent him and share his story.

“That is what we relay for,” said McConnell.

The survivors led the first two laps, lined up from one year or less cancer free to 15 years or more cancer free.

“Look behind you, all those survivors backing you up; they are your hope,” McConnell said.

Today’s event schedule for Wood County:

* Noon: set up

* 3-6 p.m.: car show

* 4 p.m. opening ceremony, survivor parade and walking laps

* 8:30 p.m. luminaria service

* 9 p.m. closing.

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