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Lewis County Relay For Life raises nearly $100,000 to fight cancer

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LOWVILLE — The 2014 Lewis County Relay for Life had a particularly festive feel, given its holiday-based theme.

However, the true celebration came from the knowledge that about $100,000 once again had been raised to aid the fight against cancer.

“We’ve got to keep coming,” event emcee Kris Marsala told the crowd Friday evening. “We’ve got to keep going until we have a cure.”

The theme of the 16th annual event was “Celebrating Holidays at Relay for Life,” with participating teams basing their parade costumes on specific holidays.

While most teams chose mainstream holidays such as Christmas, Halloween or Valentine’s Day, some chose more obscure ones, such as the Memory Keepers’ choice of National Pie Day, celebrated annually on Jan. 23.

A trio of judges selected Connected for a Cure as the top parade squad, followed by Co-op for a Cure and Memory Keepers.

Site winners were Team Alpha in first place, followed by Co-op for a Cure and Team Woo Hoo.

Cancer survivor and Journal and Republican account executive Yvonne Houppert served as honorary chairwoman at this year’s event.

“Cancer is a very scary word,” Mrs. Houppert said during opening ceremonies. “Nobody wants to hear it.”

However, she said, she was able to make it through two different bouts of breast cancer, separated by a five-year period, through the help of friends and family.

“Each one of them were more than my rock. They were my mountain,” Mrs. Houppert said of her caregivers, a couple of whom also were honored at the event.

A luminary ceremony, during which candles are lit inside bags containing names of those who have battled or are battling cancer, also was held.

“The luminary ceremony is always the most breathtaking, meaningful and inspirational ceremony among the many that we do at Relay,” co-chairwoman Caree L. Turck said. “This year was no exception. This year’s honorary caregivers, Becky Tiffany and Julie Petrus, had the crowd’s attention for their meaningful words about what it means to be a caregiver and about their journey with Yvonne as two of her many caregivers. The caregiver ceremony led us into the luminary ceremony and gave even more meaning to it this year.”

Organizers also gave special recognition to long-time Relay volunteer Linda A. Yousey, who lost her battle with cancer in late April.

Her husband, Thomas J. Yousey II, in a letter read by Mr. Marsala, said that his wife was “optimistic and full of hope” right to the end and had a strong Catholic faith that helped carry her through.

Mr. Yousey said he was unable to attend the event as he was spending time with his grandchildren in New Jersey but he plans to be at the 2015 event.

“Save me a purple shirt,” he wrote.

About $95,000 had been raised as of Saturday morning, and Ms. Turck said she expects proceeds to once again exceed $100,000 this year, since teams have until August to turn in donations.

Additional funds can be mailed to Donald J. Boshart at the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 357, Watertown, N.Y. 13601.

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