UC Relay for Life says “Cheers to 25 Years”


BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Relay for Life members, survivors and supporters came together on Saturday to celebrate 25 years of success. The event was held at the Christian Fellowship Church, located in Buckhannon. Robin Oldaker is the Chairperson and a five-year cancer survivor. Oldaker is extremely passionate about the organization and continues to be a valuable member to the Upshur County Relay for Life initiative.

Oldaker spoke on the impact that COVID had on the organization from the standpoint of limiting the teams and members to socialize. However, that did not stop them from their goals. “Even with last year being a COVID year, we had set our goal at $30,000 and we raised $29,253 which I think is phenomenal,” said Oldaker. She elaborated that corporate donation totaled $15,000 and nine teams associated with Upshur County Relay for Life raised $13,000. The additional $1,000 was raised by Upshur County elementary school students, through coin donations. “That was amazing,” said Oldaker.

Oldaker introduced the founder of the Upshur County Relay for Life, Crystal Shaw. “It was a community effort,” said Shaw, who became involved in the fight against cancer when her mother fell ill in 1988. Shaw originally got involved with the American Cancer Society before joining Relay for Life. Shaw noted, “I was angry at cancer.” She continued with her story stating that other community members were interested in starting Relay for Life in Upshur County. Shaw additionally reported important people in her life have “fought cancer with dignity and with grace.”

“I can’t help but to wonder if the advances in medicine and treatment today would have spared their lives,” said Shaw. She then noted that the war against cancer truly began when President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act in 1971. Shaw also spoke on the importance of screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies and other cancer screening tests. These tests help find cancer in early stages. “I’ve met so many people of the years and I’m proud of all the community has accomplished and when we reached the $2 million mark a couple of years ago, the pride on everyone’s faces was great to see. So, in 20 years we raised $2 million and to see that impact was a great celebration,” said Shaw. “If you are on the fence about getting involved, take a step and volunteer. You’ll meet great people and make a difference in their lives while they make a difference in yours.”

Following the speeches and introductions, everyone in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to win prizes while playing games and enjoyed a wonderful meal together. After, Oldaker read a poem aloud to those in attendance titled “On the Brink.” The poem was beautiful and encapsulated the emotion of what cancer does and what it means to fight it. Sparkling juice was then served and everyone toasted to 25 years. Oldaker led the toast and said, “Raise your glass in a toast to no more cancer in the world and to a great 2022 Relay for Life. Cheers to 25 years.”

Furthermore, Oldaker discussed the main goal of having a Relay for Life team is to raise funds that go towards cancer research, as well as providing items such as wigs, rides to treatment and hotel stays to those fighting cancer. These are just some of the many needs that funding is used for.

If you would like to become a sponsor, create a team or volunteer, you can do so by going online to www.relayforlife.org/upshurwv or by contacting Robin Oldaker at [email protected]

Documentation provided by Oldaker states, “Cancer deaths have decreased by 31% since 1991 and this is in large part to the work done by the research of the American Cancer Society and funding raised by Relay for Life. We hope that you will support us this year as we continue to Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back as we lead the fight for a world without cancer.”

This year’s Upshur County Relay for Life event will be held at Jawbone Park on July 16, 2022. The event is scheduled to start 6:30 p.m. and last until 10:30 p.m. The event will include fun and entertaining activities. Teams often sell items to raise funds during the event. The event will kick off with a survivor lap, care giver lap and first lap. Around dark, a Luminaria service will be held.

“Darkness is symbolic of the fear that a patient feels when diagnosed. After sunset, we light the Luminarias to remember those we have lost, to celebrate cancer survivors, and to show those affected by cancer that they are not alone,” said the Relay for Life website.

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