It is four days after the Relay for Life in West Bend, an overnight fund-raising walk for the American Cancer Society, and Cherie Christian is sick. Not sick-as-a-dog sick, and certainly not cancer sick, but a bit of a cold with lots of stuffiness kind of sick.
Even so, she is cheerful in reporting the event’s events and appears to almost have been expecting a bug to set in. You see, Cherie’s involvement with Relay was, umm, shall we say, significant and months in the making; eventually, you figure something’s gotta give. The ailment from which she suffers is Classic Overachiever Aftermath, the body’s way of requesting a little downtime and a bit of TLC after a terrific accomplishment.
Employees get involved
Now in her fourth year of volunteering with the organization, Cherie, the Accounting Manager at Discount Ramps, wears no less than three leadership “hats” for the annual fundraiser. For this year’s circus-themed “Relay Under the Big Top,” Cherie served as Tri-Chair, partnering with two others in the overall administration of other committee leaders for the event; Survivor Chair, organizing the Survivor’s Tent and its related activities; and Team Captain of the Shining Stars, one of 29 teams and 255 participants for this year’s outing.
Cherie was joined by Peggy Leasum, Discount Ramps Customer Service Manager, who figures she logged about 20 laps on the Badger Middle School track, where the 14-hour event was held. This was Peggy’s eighth year of participation in Relay for Life, having started with another group before teaming up with Cherie. For next year’s event, which will be the Relay’s 20th anniversary and celebrated with a birthday theme, Peggy plans to take over the role as Team Captain for the Shining Stars. And with her own family touched by the difficulties of cancer, it is an organization close to her own heart.
Relay is making a difference
While Cherie is fortunate enough to not have direct, close ties to anyone facing cancer, her passion for the good that results from Relay for Life is just as powerful. She points out that since the early 90’s, cancer death rates in the United States have dropped by 20 percent and reminds people that the event is for the survivors as a celebration of another year victorious, a remembrance of those who were lost and a re-dedication to continue battling. In fact, she mentions, two out of three people diagnosed with cancer today are surviving, which means that more than 400 people in the U.S. every day are celebrating yet another birthday. Not too shabby.
This year’s fund-raiser included the usual camp sites of the participating teams, an emotional, victorious survivors lap to kick things off, a brilliant luminaria ceremony after sunset and special activities like a Zumba workout and an appearance by part of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. It is open to the community, and even if you don’t have a team to walk with, drop-ins are encouraged to stop and check out the fun.
So far, the 2013 Relay for Life of West Bend has raised close to $80k and is accepting donations through the end of August. Funds are kept local whenever possible and provide assistance to patients with needs like transportation to treatments, lodging for families while a patient receives care and, of course, research.
Congratulations, Cherie and Peggy, on a job well done. See you on the track next year!