A record number of cancer survivors walked in the local Relay for Life Survivor Lap on Friday night when the event was held for the first time in Rock Creek Park.
Almost 100 survivors walked around the improvised track in the park, according to publicity co-chair Kelli Jo Fuller. The announcer ceremoniously called out the names, starting with people who counted their survival time in months, and ending with Mary Farley, 52-year cancer survivor.
Farley, who was named Marshall County Citizen of the Year in 2008, was accompanied by her daughter, Susan Martenson, a three and a half year survivor.
There had been a survivors' reception in the Farmers Market Pavilion, followed by a group photo and balloon release, before the walking started.
About 300 people in 17 teams participated in the all-night walk, Fuller said. Most had representatives there for the closing ceremony at 7 a.m. Saturday. In the meantime, there had been plenty of entertainers to help pass the time. They included: the Nora Mills Band, Tyte Rope, a special appearance by Buddy Jewell, and a performance by the Marshall County School of Gymnastics and Cheer.
"The food was great," Fuller said, reporting that many teams sold all their food. The new location in Rock Creek Park seemed to have attracted more people to the event, she said.
Relay for Life had been held at the show ground on Robin Hood Road. Participants there walked around the horse show track, which was more spacious than the track in Rock Creek Park and also made the teams more visible to spectators. That track was big enough for a car.
"I don't think the location hurt it at all," Fuller said, adding there are "kinks that have be worked out. We have to work on that track."
For the first time, Relay for Life teams put up decorations on the square in Lewisburg. Fuller credits that with getting more people's attention.
The Relay for Life accounting year doesn't end until August, but already Fuller reports that Marshall County's Relay for Life group has raised more than $50,000 for cancer research.
Having the word HOPE spelled out in luminarias has become a Marshall County Relay tradition, and this year, it was placed on the slope overlooking the park.