Relay for Life prepares to step forward

By Belinda M. Paschal -

MIAMI COUNTY — From the cancer survivor celebration that kicks off the event to the overnight journeys of weary walkers, every step of Miami County Relay for Life is a foot forward in the fight against cancer.

Now in its 24th year, the event that raises funds for the American Cancer Society is set to take place Friday and Saturday, June 8-9, at the Miami County Fairgrounds, 650 N. County Road 25-A in Troy.

With a theme of “Relay Knights for a Cure: Slaying the Cancer Dragon,” Relay for Life brings together a variety of people whose lives have been in some way touched by cancer.

“The bonds they make with other patients, family members, caregivers … it’s wonderful,” said Robin Hetzler, who co-chairs the planning committee with Belinda Anderson.

“The majority of the planning committee are survivors,” added Hetzler, who is a nurse and a cancer survivor herself, while Anderson is currently battling the disease.

This year, Darke County Relay for Life will join the Miami County event, which includes the following scheduled activities on opening day:

• Survivor celebration — 6 p.m.

• Opening ceremony — 6 p.m.

• Survivor lap — 6:20 p.m.

• Caregiver lap — 6:25 p.m.

• Team intro laps — 6:30 p.m.

• Survivor dinner — 6:30 p.m.

When night falls, the darkness is illuminated by luminarias decorated with names and messages dedicated to the memory of a loved one who has passed away from cancer, to someone currently battling the disease, or to someone who has overcome it. During the emotional ceremony, participants take a moment of silence to honor those to whom the luminarias are dedicated.

Relay for Life also will also feature a kids’ zone, where young participants can make their own knight costumes and take part in a knighting ceremony.

The Miami County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand with its Ident-A-Kid program, and several law enforcement departments will compete in a tug o’ war.

In addition, there will be savory sweets and good eats from Susie’s Big Dipper, TK’s BBQ N Fixins’ and Son of a Biscuit.

In conjunction with Relay for Life, there will be a Road to Recovery car and bike show from 9 a.m to noon June 9. Inviting the car and biking community to the event has “fueled a different group of people who didn’t quite know what to do to help,” Hetzler said. “It’s something they’re passionate about.”

The show is open to all makes and models. There is a $10 registration fee for show vehicles, with registration taking place from 7:30-8:30 a.m. at the south gate of the fairgrounds. Dash plaques will be given to the first 50 registered vehicles, and there will be trophies, games, food, raffles, trivia and door prizes.

Various fundraisers also will be held leading up to the relay event, which has a goal of $130,000 this year.

The 12th annual Relay For Life golf outing is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, May 6, at the Shelby Oaks Golf Club, 900 Sidney-Freyburg Road, in Sidney. The four-person golf scramble costs $65 per golfer, and sponsorship opportunities are available.

On May 23, from 6-9 p.m., supporters can satisfy their appetites while raising funds for Relay for Life and Team Belinda at Buffalo Wild Wings in Troy. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of its sales during those hours — including carryout orders — to Relay for Life.

Team Belinda will also participate in the Casstown Memorial Day Parade on May 28. Lineup starts at 9:45 a.m. on Burton Road.

Of course, online fundraising efforts also are under way, Hetzler emphasized. As the world becomes increasingly technology-driven, virtual fundraising has become “very enticing,” she said.

Whether it’s by making a donation, dedicating a luminaria or walking in the relay, you can support the fight against cancer by visiting Event updates also are available on Facebook at

By Belinda M. Paschal

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at or (937) 451-3341

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at or (937) 451-3341