Local Relay raises more than $10,000
Published 9:29 am Tuesday, July 14, 2015
A 5-mile walk is a massive undertaking for anyone, much less a 65-year-old man.
As of 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, though, that’s exactly the distance that Dowagiac’s Dennis Kelley had traversed around the running track at the Dowagiac Union High School.
Despite the strain, propelling his steps forward was the memory of his late wife, who passed away of cancer in 2012, and the spirit of his granddaughter, who overcame her cancer diagnosis.
“It feels good,” Kelley said. “I’m doing it not only for my loved ones, but all the cancer survivors out there.”
Kelley was one of the more than 100 people who marched along the blacktop Saturday, participating in the 2015 Cass County Relay for Life. The annual cancer charity event sported a Disney-inspired theme this year, with a number of activities centered around that, including a Frozen bounce house for children.
Despite a slight reduction in the amount of teams participating in the event, members were able to raise nearly $13,000 by Saturday afternoon, said Caralee Waswick, a representative with The American Cancer Society.
“We were blessed with some wonderful weather,” Waswick said. “When you have great weather, you see a lot more people come out and participate.”
Saturday’s Relay featured reduced hours from previous years, running from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. versus 24 hours. The decision was made by organizers to help encourage additional attendance, in hopes that a reduced time commitment will get more people involved, said Relay Chair Terri Schmidt.
“We will see how it goes,” Schmidt said. “The goal is to try and get more people out here every year.”
In spite of the changes, Schmidt was encouraged to see people like Kelley and others dedicate themselves to the event and its cause eliminating cancer, she said.
“I want the Relay to raise money for research, but more so to honor survivors and the people who lost their lives to cancer,” she said. “I just want to get more people out here and to understand why we do this.”