FREDERICKTOWN — As the participants in Knox County’s 13th annual Relay for Life gathered in the shade Saturday morning, organizer Jody Rutter made the announcement they’d waited 18 hours to hear.
“I’m pretty excited,” she said. “We made it. It was challenging at times, with rain and wind, the tornado siren and blowing tents. We know this has been a tough year economically, but Knox County came through. We raised $133,539.79.”
The crowd broke into cheers and applause for such a significant increase; in 2008, $105,875.51 was raised during the annual 18-hour event to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The ACS is also celebrating its 25th year of hosting Relays for Life.
The Rolls-Royce relay team received the Most Money Raised Overall award for its $51,000, as well as the Best Campsite award and the Most Money Raised Business award.
“It’s our year,” said team captain and cancer survivor Kathy Stover, who confessed to being tired. Stover will have breast cancer surgery later this week.
“Today is nap day,” said her husband, Ray Stover. He sported pink hair on Friday evening in support of the fight against breast cancer.
Mike Rice of the Rolls-Royce team received the annual Don Summerhayes award ... just as he finished dressing in a special pink flamingo costume to compete in the Ms. Relay competition, which he won.
Rice remembered his co-worker, Dianna Craig, who died in January of leukemia and in whose memory the Rolls-Royce team competed.
“It’s my honor to be able to help in my small way to be part of this group,” Rice said, adding that he wanted to remind the crowd of five words, the last three of which were Craig’s motto: “Hope, cure and ‘Never Give Up.’”
Awards also went to the Cutting For a Cure team for Most Mission Integration, The Mack Attack team for Most Money Raised Friends and Family, the Freddies & Friends team for Most Money Raised School, the Faith Lutheran Cancer Crusaders team for Most Money Raised Church and Kiwanis for Most Money Raised Local Organization.
Cutting For a Cure won the second-place Best Campsite award; Kirsten’s Krusaders won third place and also received the Team Spirit award. Rookie teams recognized were Wal-Mart, Cutting For a Cure and The Mack Attack.
Teams receiving the ACS Silver designation were Faith Lutheran, Knox Community Hospital Firecrackers, First-Knox National Bank and Kirsten’s Krusaders. Freddies & Friends received the Gold designation, and Ariel Corp. and Kokosing Construction received the Diamond designation.
Donating their time, disc jockeys Howard Behner and Greg Ulen played music all night to keep the walkers energized.