Jun. 26—JEFFERSON — Relay for Life returned to Ashtabula County as more than 160 walkers came to Giddings Park to fight cancer.
The walk to fight cancer, through the American Cancer Society, has been an integral part of efforts to battle the dreaded disease for many years in Ashtabula County.
Ashtabula County Relay for Life organizer Trish Nagle said 164 people registered to participate in the event that started at 11:45 a.m. Saturday with a survivor's walk and was scheduled to end around 10 p.m. Saturday night.
The goal for the event was to raise $75,000 to fight cancer and Saturday morning Relay for Life was just $10,000 from that goal.
Nagle said the money goes to the American Cancer Society for research to beat cancer, Hope Lodge (a place where cancer patients can stay during treatment in Cleveland), educational programming and to help provide rides for treatment for Ashtabula County residents.
Organizers said the last two years have been difficult as full in-person events were not possible due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said it was easy for survivors to feel like they were forgotten.
"We will never forget. We will fight to find the cure. ... I don't want my grandchildren to know what cancer is about," Nagle said.
Nagle said online events were held in 2020 and 2021 as well as a survivor's drive-through experience last year at A-Tech in Jefferson Township. She said corporate sponsors were back this year and new sponsors have been found.
Gina Hart, an ACS organizer for Ohio and part of West Virginia, attended the event not only as an employee, but also a cancer survivor. She said the walk is meaningful to her as a person who has been cancer-free for six years.
Hart said there are more than 50 Relay for Life walks throughout the state of Ohio on a yearly basis.
Patsy's Run, a motorcycle event led by Ken Hurst, who lost his wife Patsy to cancer, came by Giddings Park to salute the walkers and survivors with more than 300 participants.
Many survivors lined the streets waving to the motorcyclists.
Nagle said the two events both raise money to fight cancer so the organization likes to connect with the ride-through each year.
Natalie Connell, also a cancer survivor from Ashtabula, participated in the walk and is thankful for the efforts of the ACS and Relay for Life. She said she received stem-cell treatment for multiple lymphoma on June 18, 2021 and was in the hospital for a significant amount of time.
She said the treatment worked, but she loves the fact that money raised on Saturday helps the Hope Lodge and provides rides for people in treatment.
"It takes a big worry off my family," Connell said of the possibility that she might need another treatment.