Auction items, theme laps, music, and the reading of luminaria names make up the last half of the 2017 Relay for Life

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[June 19, 2017]  LINCOLN - Cancer is a bitter, painful thing for many. Thinking about loved ones who are suffering, or those who have left this world, can bring on deep feelings. Yet, at the Relay for Life event each year there is a sense of pride and happiness as participants watch the dollars roll in for the American Cancer Society.

While there are emotional and difficult moments at the Relay, portions of the day are designed to be a lot of fun and the event as a whole a celebration of life.

On Saturday night when Mike Maske took the microphone to conduct the live auction, the fun was at an all-time high for the night. Maske, not being confined to the back of a truck or an auctioneer’s stand, enjoyed walking around in front of the crowd, and even going right up to people with a friendly and lighthearted “get in your face” sales technique urging them to bid, and bid again.

When buyers were determined, he would urge the audience to applaud the buyer for their contribution to the Relay for Life.

This year the auction included items donated by Relay team members, local businesses and organizations, and many others, including students from Northwest School.

The students had painted canvases with a Relay for Life theme during their annual Relay Recess event this spring. Bidders were urged to show their support to the students through big bids.

One of the most prized items bringing a high bid was the survivor tee-shirt autographed by all the survivors in attendance. The shirt brought $150.

Gift certificates donated by Collision Concepts and Stahl’s Furniture in Mount Pulaski also brought in big bids, as did planted hanging baskets and potted plants donated by Connie’s Greenhouse. Furniture donated by Jakes Furniture in Lincoln sold at good prices, but still, buyers got bargains as bidding ended below retail value on items.

The quilting and knitting clubs of Atlanta donated several items including lap blankets and a lap-size afghan. Maske urged on the bidders, noting that even if an item was something the bidder couldn’t use personally, it could be donated to local nursing homes for use by the residents. He said such donations are greatly appreciated by all the local care facilities.

Another nice item offered for bid at the last minute was a balloon hat made by Rachel Skelton. Skelton was on hand as a member of one of the relay teams. She spent a good part of the evening making balloon art for the youngsters and young at heart. Hats, swords, and pretty little flower wristlets could be seen all around the gymnasium. The hat was made using all the “colors of cancer.” In the end, Maske purchased the hat for $90.

As in the past, the live auction was facilitated by the Cooley family

In addition to the live auction, a silent auction was being held at the back of the room. At 8:30 p.m. bidding closed and buyers were happy to gather up their “prizes” and pay their bills to the cashier.

Throughout the evening, special laps were held including the 'Proud to be an American' lap and the 'Beach Bum' lap.

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At a little after 8 p.m., Josiah Keller took the stage providing some excellent guitar music for attendees. Josiah is a student at Lincoln College majoring in Jazz Studies. He has just completed his first degree, an Associates, and according to his dad Ron Keller, is considering whether he will continue on for his Baccalaureate or perhaps do something else for a while.

Just before 9 p.m. volunteers began working around the track breaking the glow sticks in the luminaria bags and preparing for the final hour of the evening.

Keller was asked to take a short break while names were drawn for the 50-50 winner as well as the raffle winner. He resumed playing afterward and continued on until 9 p.m. when it was time for the reading of the luminaria names.

While Relay for Life can be considered a fundraising event, there are also spiritual aspects of the event. It is about coming together as a group who has suffered, fought, and prevailed against a horrifying disease. It’s about remembering those who in their final hours accepted defeat and moved on to a heavenly home and a place of peace.

It’s about those who are left behind and how they remember and celebrate their loved ones through sharing stories, sharing hugs, sharing tears, and yes, raising money. They work for a cause that is near and dear to their hearts because they don’t want others to experience what they have experienced. They want a cure, they want real hope. They want survivors.

On Saturday evening as the last hour of the relay approached, Bill Post and Donna Miles took the stage.

The lights went down, and the Hush Angels appeared, asking everyone to spend the next hour in silence as Post reverently read the names of all those listed on the luminaria bags that circled the track.

Though the crowd had thinned out, there were those faithful walkers who gathered on the track and for a full hour, they quietly made their laps, wearing or carrying an item that reminded them of the person they were there honoring or remembering as Post read aloud those wonderful names.

When the reading was completed, Post closed the evening with prayer and then there was the traditional playing of the bagpipes, signifying the conclusion of another successful Relay for Life in Logan County.

[Nila Smith]

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