MARSHALL - Sixteen teams, 211 registered participants and dozens of spectators were at the Lyon County Fairgrounds on Friday night for the 21st annual Feat at the Fairgrounds Relay for Life event. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 4 million people come together every year at Relay for Life events around the world to help finish the fight against cancer.
Survivors wore purple shirts and smiles on their faces Friday night as they talked with teams and participants. And this year, the weather cooperated.
Bob Meffert sat at a table with family, friends and fellow survivors during the Cancer Survivor Picnic.
Photo by Anna Haecherl-Smith
The crowd of survivors and supporters at the Relay for Life Opening Ceremonies gave Honorary Chairperson Cheri Buysse a standing ovation after she told her survivor story Friday night.
"I had my 15th treatment last Wednesday," Meffert said, "and I directed the city band later that night." Meffert has been directing the Marshall City band since 1983. His predecessor directed from 1949 to 1982.
"He did it for 33 years and I'm only on my 32nd year, so I still have work to do," Meffert said.
Meffert said he and his wife had attended Relay for Life events in the past, but that it's a different feeling when you are on the survivor side. He used to drive for Mobile Recovery and transport patients to Sioux Falls, S.D., for chemo treatments.
"It's interesting now being on the other side but not having to drive as we can get it here in Marshall," Meffert said. "It's marvelous that we are getting that stuff locally, being able to save time and energy."
Meffert said he's been handling his treatment well and that he is looking toward the future.
"I have chemo treatments every three weeks on Wednesday, started back in August 2013 and I'm feeling very hopeful," Meffert said. "We're getting good results with it."
This year's honorary chairpersons, Jeri Morris and Cheri Buysse, spoke with the crowd and fellow cancer survivors about their battles with the disease and what it took to get them through it.
"Faith, family and friends," is what Buysse said was most important and helpful to her during her fight with cancer in the opening of her speech.
Jennifer Evans, a member of the Feat at the Fairgrounds Relay for Life Planning Committee, said there were some changes to the event this year.
"The big difference this year is that we are ending at 1 a.m.," Evans said. "We've always had overnight events, and this year we are ending earlier and hoping it will encourage more teams. We want to do whatever we can to make it easier for people to be a part of the relay."
Evans also said that the new cancer center in town is helping bring more treatment and education to local residents.
"With so many of the treatments and testing and screenings that the American Cancer Society has funded... we'll be able to do that all in town now, which we are really excited about," Evans said.
When the walk ends Saturday morning, the work doesn't stop, but begins again in preparation for next year.
"The planning committee works all year and we would love to have more help. People can form teams at any time during the year," Evans said. "You see the big event one night a year, but it's something the committee and teams work on all year round."