Despite the 90-plus temperatures at 8 p.m., walkers made their way around the steamy track at Whitney Field raising money for the American Cancer Society.
Wende Mersereau, chairwoman of the Norwalk Relay chapter, knows all about the battle with cancer.
“I’m still fighting,” she said, having celebrated the 19th anniversary of her own battle with cancer in May. “Even though I’m blessed to have my cancer gone, once you get diagnosed, that hangs in the back of your mind always.
“(So) I want to help more (cancer) survivors celebrate more birthdays. They’ve made it. And we honor those who didn’t survive.”
The music was blaring and the action was constant at Whitney Field. Different Relay teams had booths set up offering food, T-shirts and other items.
Along with the walkers, there were games and events throughout the event.
“We have great music. Great food,” Mersereau said. “You can buy luminary bags in honor of someone who has survived cancer or in memory of someone who has passed away. We had a great suvivor dinner. We’ve had a great time.”
Among the events were a cornhole tournament, frying pan and skillet toss, horse of a different color, poker lap, frozen T-shirt and bingo lap.
“I have a passion for this. I am 19 years cancer free,” Mersereau said over the blaring music. “This is my way of still fighting. When you’re done with all of your treatments, the doctors say, ‘See you later; we will see you in a year.’ You have been fighting and seeing doctors and going of appointments and all for all of these years. All of a sudden they let you loose. And it is kind of scary. For me this is my way of fighting. I am fighting all of the time. We want to make this a successful event.
“We’re here to celebrate survivors. A lot of survivors this year. We are trying to give them hope. You are a survivor the moment you are diagnosed. It’s a very scary diagnosis to hear. We just want you to now there is hope. I was a stage four, which is usually a death sentence. But I am here and I hope that I am a symbol of hope for people who are diagnosed.”
A proponent of donating, volunteering and other forms of community support, Mersereau insists the money raised for the American Cancer Society does actuall, go to the development of cancer programs and services.
“Seventy-six cents of every dollar goes to programs and research ... which is the highest amount ‘given away’ by non-profits,” Mersereau said. “$13.7 million has been raised for cancer research in Ohio.”
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]