By Pam Robinson
The 12-hour format for this year’s Mount Vernon Relay for Life didn’t put a damper on festivities. From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, Relay participants—over 70 cancer survivors supported by 25 fundraising teams—literally lit the night sky with hope for an end to cancer.
As Relay co-chair Tiffani Weatherford relates, this year’s luminaria ceremony deeply moved all present. Every Relay participant received a balloon with an LED light inside. Participants released their balloons whenever the featured PowerPoint presentation highlighted their reason for helping with Relay for Life. At the same time, luminaria (paper bags illuminated with glow sticks) encircled the track. The ceremony created a memorable tribute to honor those who wage war against this insidious disease as well as to those who died fighting the battle against cancer.
“It was really a tear-jerker,” Weatherford comments. “We did two dark laps after the release of the balloons as a remembrance of those who have passed.”
Earlier in the evening, Melody Oeth was presented the annual Courage Award for her exemplary character in battling cancer. Brittaney Oeth Johnson had written the letter to nominate her mother, the wife of Sheriff Greg Oeth, for the award.
Once the formal ceremonies ended, at least 40 Relay participants still possessed the energy to roll with “Zumba after Dark” at 11:30 p.m. followed by a watermelon eating contest and more Zumba.
August 31 is the end of this year’s Mount Vernon Relay for Life season. Weatherford says every dollar raised is used to fund research to fight cancer or to support cancer patients in their fight with the disease. Weatherford and Relay chair Marissa Priddis extend heartfelt thanks to everyone for their help.
“The support of this community is always amazing,” Weatherford says.
Daughter’s nomination makes mother Courage Award winner
Dear Courage Award Committee,
My name is Brittaney and in May of 2011 my mom, Melody Oeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. I noticed she had been worrying about something and I will never forget the day she told me that she had found a lump on one of her breast.
It did not really affect me at first, because I felt it was not real, surely, it is something that can just be removed, I thought to myself. The tests came back and it was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I can remember when it finally hit me; I was left in disbelief, with tears rolling down my face and a running nose. “Oh, my Mom has cancer. My Mom is sick, what will I do if she cannot beat this cancer?!” Those words ran through my mind relentlessly. This could not be happening to my mom, to my family. She decided to have a double mastectomy in July of 2011. December of 2011 she had reconstruction surgery and with the power of prayer and the great doctors, today she is cancer free!
My mom is the toughest and strongest person I know. She hid a lot of emotion and fear to protect my grown sisters and I. My dad has always been extremely busy with his line of work and many of the household responsiblities have always fallen onto my moms shoulders. She has given up a lot over the years to give my sisters and I everything we have ever wanted and raise us into wonderful young ladies. I am now what is considered an adult and starting my own family, but I do not know what I would do without my, “mommy.”
My mom has kept such a positive outlook on life through this whole experience. She has not skipped a beat. She goes above and beyond for everyone around her and she more than deserves the 2012 Mt. Vernon Relay for Life Courage Award.