Relay for Life draws 1,000 to Geneva in fight against cancer
By Linda Girardi June 22, 2012 8:03PM
Sylvia Forsberg of Aurora, a 31 year cancer survivor receives high fives as she makes her way around Fifth Third Bank Ballpark during this years Relay For Life on Friday, June 22, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 11:08PM
The Kane County Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society on Friday was a testament of hope and belief in the strength in numbers.
The overnight relay-style event attracted 74 teams and almost 1,000 participants registered to camp out at the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Paticipants walked laps around the field as a way to find healing, comfort and support from people who have battled cancer or who have lost a loved one to the disease.
Betsy Wisdom, a 10-year survivor of stage three melanoma skin cancer, was co-captain of the Aurora group “Passionate Women.”
“I was given a 50/50 chance of surviving five years,” she said.
Wisdom said she believes it was her faith in God and positive attitude that helped to carry her through her recovery. “Attitude is everything to get through this,” she said.
“Cancer patients should not give up hope – cancer is something you can live with. I appreciate the little things in life more than ever before,” Wisdom said.
Molly Link-Freed, the American Cancer Society’s income development representative, said the goal was to raise $315,000. Last year’s relay event raised $285,000.
“This event creates a real sense of community for anyone who has been impacted by cancer,” Link-Freed said.
Link-Freed said the Relay for Life walks, held in Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties into the early morning hours of Saturday, help fund the non-profit organization’s mission to support cancer research, education, advocacy and free services and programs to cancer patients and their families.
The teams decorated their camp sites with banners and showed solidarity by wearing the official color of purple with words of strength across the fronts of their team T-shirts.
The “Copley Crusaders” represented a 25-member team of oncology nurses from Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora – on the frontline in the battle against cancer.
“We see patients when they receive the diagnosis and hold their hands through treatment,” said Courtney Harley, co-captain of the team.
Harley, of Hinckley, said they get to know their patients as family. “It’s OK to cry – families want to know we are just like them,” Harley said. “We see survivors here who have lived with cancer for decades,” Harley said.
The St. Charles East and St. Charles North high school drill teams presented a $40,101.16 check to the American Cancer Society and LivingWell Cancer Resource Center of Geneva during Friday night’s opening ceremonies. The 65 girls raised the proceeds through their annual kick-a-thon. “We have all been touched with cancer,” drill team coach Nancy Franson said of the donation.
Renee Souba of Batavia took a ceremonial lap around the field in memory of her daughter, Ashley. Souba said her daughter participated in her first Relay for Life at age 12, three weeks after receiving a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Ashley died in August 2009. Souba was accompanied by her sister, Michelle Koehler and nephew Erich Koehler.
“We keep going in her memory,” Souba said. “Ashley never really spoke about herself – she would be here fighting for other kids with cancer,” the mom said.
“Ashley was courageous and an inspiration to so many people,” her aunt Michelle said.