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The Suburbanite
  • Jackson community fights cancer at annual 'Relay' event

  • Residents from Jackson Township and surrounding areas demonstrated their dedication to fighting cancer when they walked in the Jackson Relay for Life Cancer walk to help raise money for The American Cancer Society on June 7.

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  • Cancer is an ageless enemy that continues to fight back against the millions of people fighting against it.
    The ongoing battle shows the long term and determined resilience of so many touched by cancer because they have survived it themselves, know a family member or friend that has survived it or because they have lost someone to the obstinate disease.
    Residents from Jackson Township and surrounding areas demonstrated their dedication to fighting cancer when they walked in the Jackson Relay for Life Cancer walk to help raise money for The American Cancer Society on June 7. This is the seventh year for the event and the fourth year it has been held at the Neitzelt Soccer Stadium at Jackson High School.
    Jill McCauley, co-chair of the event, said that 24 teams walked during the 18 hour event. Team sizes varied from 5 to 30 members. Many of the teams raised money before the event and others raised money during the event by offering lemonade for $1, selling jewelry and cooking hamburgers and hot dogs among many other activities.
    “Our goal this year is to raise $75,000, we reached that goal last year and we're trying hard to get there this year.” McCauley said.
    For those who make the event an annual tradition, there is a familiarity to the night.
    “This year's event, like previous years, started with a dinner to honor the survivors,” McCauley said. “At dusk this evening, we'll honor those that lost their lives to cancer with a ceremony called the Luminary.”
    The Luminary involved turning off the stadium lights to observe the hundreds of lighted paper bags lining the walking track. Each bag had a name of someone that gave a good fight against the unyielding disease and in the end lost their battle.
    Walkers had their tents set up to spend the night. The rules say that someone from each group has to be walking on the track the entire time. Team members continued to take their turn. There were numerous activities held throughout the night including live musical bands, a disc jockey, an Elvis impersonator and a duck drop drawing.
    At 11p.m., there was a wing eating contest hosted by BW3. The entry fees for the contest were donated to the American Cancer Society.
    “The theme this year is ‘Countries from Around the World,’ McCauley said. “Each table has a setup that represents a country. I think we have a couple of hundred people walking and spending the night this year.”
    Jackson Local Schools donated the use of the field and the Relay for Life committee paid the grounds crew to stay all night. One of the main fundraisers from the committee was the Brown Bag auction.
    People donated items that were put into a big brown grocery bags Attendees bid against each other to win one of the bags. Some of the brown bag themes over the years have included a coffee bag, a baking bag, a 4th of July picnic bag and many others.
    Page 2 of 2 - One family came from Columbus to see the luminary purchased for their father. Angela Harris and her husband Tim along with their son Aidan drove up for the event from Columbus to be with Angela's mother, who is from Canal Fulton.
    “My father passed away from small cell lung cancer on April 29, 2013 and we came tonight to participate and see the luminary,” Angela said.
    Members of Julian's Crew walked the field all evening long. Julian Sponseller had thyroid cancer when he was 12 years old. He is a survivor now at age 16. His father Jeff Sponseller was the auctioneer for the Brown Bag Auction.
    “Julian is 16 now and is doing well,” Jeff Sponseller said.
    Julian's aunt, Lisa Flagg was part of Julian's Crew. She is also a cancer survivor.
    “I had cervical cancer 11 years ago and I've been doing this walk for the past two years,” Flagg said.
    Another member of Julian's Crew, Cathy Gruber, was also walking for her sister who passed away at age 42.
    “It's been 10 years ago and it's still hard to think about it,” Gruber said.