BUCKHANNON — Another Relay year has roared into Upshur County, marking 20 years of Relay for Life in the county.
Upshur County Relay for Life celebrated the kick-off of the 2017 Relay year with the theme “Roarin’ 20 Years and Going Strong.”
Linda Wolfe is the event lead for the second year.
“Twenty years is a long time,” she said. “Relay for Life here in Upshur County has been here for 20 years. Congratulations.
“We are looking at having a very good year and we had more people register tonight.”
Just like the theme that looks back at the Roaring 20s, Wolfe reached back to the past to recognize one of the founders of Relay for Life in Upshur County, Crystal Shaw, who has remained with the organization all 20 years.
Shaw said her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and she was looking for a way to fight back.
“I kept hearing that other communities were doing stuff to raise money for the American Cancer Society and Upshur County didn’t have anything,” she said.
After hearing a radio announcement, Shaw contacted the Morgantown office and got connected with Mary Lough, who was speaking at the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce that day.
“We started planning in May and we had our event in July,” Shaw said. “The cancer society thought we might raise $20,000 if we were lucky that year, and I think we raised $40,000 and something.”
For several years, Upshur County exceeded $100,000 raised annually, and Shaw said the county has nearly collected a total of $2 million for the American Cancer Society over its 20-year history.
Shaw thanked everyone for their participation.
“It’s been my life for 20 years and it’s something that’s within me,” she said. “I probably bleed purple.”
Dr. Salvatore LaNasa, a surgeon with St. Joseph’s Hospital, spoke briefly about the importance of early screening.
“As a surgeon, I deal with cancer quite a bit,” he said.
Early detection through regular screenings is important, according to LaNasa.
He particularly stressed colonoscopies, which can help reduce deaths from colorectal cancer by 60 to 70 percent thanks to early detection, according to information from www.cancer.gov.
LaNasa also mentioned knowing the risk factors and family history was something people should know.
The earlier the detection, the better the chances are of surviving cancer.
Kaitlyn Beeson, a physician assistant in LaNasa’s office, spoke about how cancer does not discriminate.
“We have each been impacted in some way by this devastating diagnosis whether it is family, as a friend, or even a patient itself,” she said. “We witness struggles and hardships, but we have been able to celebrate and rejoice for the battles that were won.”
“As we know, cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells begin to grow out of control, invading the normal cells and can occur in any body system,” Beeson said.
Cancer comes in various forms, grows at different speeds and requires different treatments.
Beeson also stressed early detection in her speech.
To get involved with Relay for Life for 2017, contact Wolfe at 304-472-6226, email [email protected] or visit www.relayforlife.org/upshurwv.