By Relay starting time, the weather had completely cleared and
the event took place outside once again this year. As the evening
progressed, clouds began to gather, but the rain stayed away. Though
it may have been hard to see the stars in the sky, there were plenty
of stars to see in the shape of the crowd that gathered to
participate in this year’s 'Relay' event.
As teams were busy setting up their tents and makeshift homes for
the night, volunteers rushed to set out the luminaries. Others were
working hard at getting live and silent auction items put out for
display, and inside Lincoln Center folks were signing in for the
night, and some were still purchasing luminaries.
As the clock struck 6 p.m. the host for the evening, John Guzzardo,
announced they were going to start the event on time.
Guzzardo’s first introduction for the night was Pastor Robert Long,
who offered a prayer of thanksgiving on the evening. Long is also a
six-year cancer survivor. As Pastor Long said his closing "Amen"
Guzzardo commented remembering that it was six years at a 'Together
for Lincoln' meeting that Long had shared that he had cancer.
Guzzardo said, “The preachers there brought him (Long) up on stage
and prayed for him. There are miracles folks, and he is one of
After the prayer, American Legion Post 263 of Lincoln came forward
to present the nation’s colors while Debbie Ross sang the "National
Next up were this year’s Relay for Life Co-chairs, Trenton Crawford
and Kathleen Brumbaugh. Crawford began with a few welcoming
statements. Then Brumbaugh added her statements as well, saying,
“While each of us has a unique reason for being here, we all have
something in common. We want to make a difference in the fight
Crawford also commented on his own commitment to the Relay for Life
and the team of high school students he had brought to the Relay.
“For me bringing them together to do something that is bigger than
themselves, and to fight for something that means so much to me and
them as well really means a lot to us. As kids, we have
grandparents, relatives, aunts, uncles, parents, brothers and
sisters that are all somehow affected by this, and we want to make a
When Guzzardo returned to the microphone he introduced the honorary
co-chairs for this year; Nancy Reese and Nicole Bottrell.
Reese stood and told the group that when she had her operation for
cancer, she was 38 years old, and this year she is a 38-year
Guzzardo read biographies from each of the honorary chairs.
He read Reese’s document, saying her breast cancer diagnosis came in
1976, when she had two surgeries, and several months of
chemotherapy. At the time, she had children in a wide range of ages
that needed her. She and her husband spent Independence Day that
year in the hospital, watching fireworks out the window of her room.
Her mother took early retirement from her job and dedicated herself
to helping see the family through this trying time. Reese said in
her biography she was thankful to be with the Relay for Life on this
night, and thankful she was able to celebrate 38 years of being a
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Nicole Bottrell’s biography came next. As Guzzardo read it, the
group heard that Bottrell has an incurable cancer and will take
chemotherapy the rest of her life just to keep it under control.
Bottrell said in her bio that both her grandmother and mother had
breast cancer, and she knew it would eventually come to her as well.
However, Bottrell was much younger than she had ever thought she
would be when cancer came.
She had hopes that like her mother and grandmother, she would
have surgery and chemotherapy and be better, but, unfortunately, it
would not be that simple for Nicole. Her cancer is referred to as
inflammatory breast cancer, which quickly spread throughout her
She spoke about the family that surrounded her, and her mother who
was with her when she heard the worst of her news. She ended her
biography saying, “My cancer will never be gone, but it is
stabilized. I must get chemo every three weeks for life, but it
won’t make me sick. This (cancer) is a lifelong battle for me, but
with my support systems I can endure everything. Cancer can’t keep
this girl down."
Guzzardo then called for the Survivor's Lap. All the participating
cancer survivors gathered under the red, white, and blue American
Cancer Society Archway. While Lesleigh Bennett sang a moving
rendition of “I hope you dance" the survivors made their way around
the track with all those on the sidelines clapping and cheering.
Bennett also sang “Go light your world."
The second lap of the night was the Caregiver Lap. In this lap the
caregivers who have stood beside the loved ones and helped them
through their bad and good days walked a lap with their survivors.
As they made their lap Sheralyn Bolton sang, "I’ll stand by you.”
Bolton also sang Bruno Mars’ “Count on me.”
For the third lap
Guzzardo said he was going to take the liberty of changing the rules
a little. The lap was designated for children ages 10 and under, but
Guzzardo wanted everyone 16 and under. He called out the Railer Man,
the LCHS youth team, and all the kids in the audience. As the young
people gathered and made their lap around the track, Lauren Hill
sang “Everyone is beautiful” and “Happy.”
When the young people had finished, Guzzardo called for all Relay
teams to start the Team Lap. As he called off the names, teams took
their spot under the arch and began their lap.
When all the special laps were completed, Guzzardo called for
everyone to come together and take the ‘everyone’ lap while Jennifer
Keith ready the Fight Back statement.
For the rest of the night there would be team members circling the
track. There would also be special events going on such as a live
auction conducted by local auctioneer Mike Maske. There would be a
silent auction, dancing, games, and much more.
Guzzardo also announced that beginning around 7:30 p.m. pizza
deliveries would be coming to the Relay. He said the local pizzerias
including Sorrento’s, Dominos, Stuffed Aria, and Guzzardo’s would be
donating pizza’s to be sold with 100 percent of the proceeds going
to Relay for Life.
After dark in the glow of the luminary bags, Bill Post would
carefully read off the names of those being remembered by a luminary
and those who placed their name on the bag.
When day began to break, the group would then celebrate with a
morning donut and coffee lap, the launching of the balloons and a
prayer of hope for a cancer free future for everyone.
[By NILA SMITH]