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Relay For Life drew 30 teams and 267 participants this year

KENNY GATES, emcee for this year’s Lake Winnipesaukee Relay for Life event on June 25 and 26, helps Karen Anthony share her story of family losses to cancer to the assembled crowd at The Nick during the opening ceremony. Sharing both losses and successes are part of the event, which serves as a catharsis for many. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
July 07, 2011
WOLFEBORO — The crowd gathered at The Nick on Saturday afternoon, June 25, for the opening ceremony of the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay for Life listened to stories of recovery and stories of loss. They cheered and clapped for those who endured treatment and came out the other side cancer free, and they shed tears for those who lost their lives to the disease.

Memories reawaken at such an event. Judi Gates, whose son Zach died in 1994, said, "Every year I tell myself I'm going to be strong and not cry, but every year I do. It's bittersweet for me – I'm thrilled for the survivors and love cheering for them, but miss terribly my son, my mother-in-law, and several other family members and friends." She was not alone.

Her husband, Kenny, the emcee this year, encouraged Karen Anthony, who has also lost several family members, to share her story at the opening. She was too choked up to read it aloud, so he put his arm around her shoulder and read it for her. He's been there before, as have members of the audience, and they were all there to offer each other support.

Sixty-three survivors stood ready, dressed in purple tee shirts signifying their status, to walk the first lap, setting the continuous motion that would not end until 8 a.m. the next day. The people who had been by their sides during their diagnosis and treatment walked with them.

Gates singled out Nancy Orvis from Team F-Squared for walking over 30 miles and Kelsey and Haley Buck for their approximately 25 miles of laps.

People purchased 1,400 luminaria to place around the track in honor of loved ones to light the darkest hours of the night.

Four people also participated in the Pantene Challenge, donating their hair to be sent off to make wigs to be given to cancer patients free of charge.

In all, 267 participants signed up for the celebration of life. Among them were 30 teams, whose efforts brought in $85,000 for the American Cancer Society and its support of research and prevention.

Gates reported that the top fundraising team, the Dream Team, raised $10,502, followed by Team Kyniska, at $7,792.94; the Lakes Region All Stars, at $7,154.75; the Wolfeboro Garden Club, at $5,548.25; Zach's Team, at $5,521.00; and the Poor People's Pub, at $4,537. At the same time, he stressed that no one team is more important than the next and said, " All of our teams did exceptionally well."

Donations are accepted through Aug. 31. Donations can be made on line or sent to the American Cancer Society, c/o Lake Winnipesaukee RFL, 2 Commerce Drive, Bedford NH 02110.

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