Relay for Life raises money, teaches lessons

By Dave Faries, Editor
Posted 9/15/21

Looking on as cancer survivors prepared to walk a lap around Mexico's downtown square on Saturday evening, Lana Blue offered praise for the men and women in purple t-shirts.

"They are strong …

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Relay for Life raises money, teaches lessons

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Looking on as cancer survivors prepared to walk a lap around Mexico's downtown square on Saturday evening, Lana Blue offered praise for the men and women in purple t-shirts.

"They are strong minded people," she said. "You have to be by their side."

Saturday's Relay for Life event raised $22,712 toward cancer research and support of victims. Eleven teams took part in the fundraiser, along with dozens of individuals.

The event honored caregivers with a lap of the square, as well as medical professionals and public safety officers. There was a luminaria display, a stirring performance by the Missouri Military Academy Fusileers and presentations.

For Blue and other young members of the Astra International Club of Mexico, who set up a booth and watched the proceedings, Relay for Life was both sobering and inspirational.

"They are so brave -- they are amazing people," observed Ella Raines during the survivors lap.

Astra International is a service organization for young people ages 11 to 25, part of Altrusa International. Five members attended the gathering.

Rylea Miller observed that the shirts worn by survivors made a strong statement.

"Cancer is an everyday thing," she said. "You don't know who had it unless it is on a shirt."

According to Centers for Disease Control data, the average annual cancer death count for Audrain County is 66, which would amount to 195 deaths per 100,000 people based on a five year average ending in 2019. By comparison, Missouri's average over the same span is 166 per 100,000. Across the U.S., the figure is 152 per 100,000.

While cancer impacts a lot of lives, the national mortality rate from cancer has been in decline since the 1990s.

The American Cancer Society attributes this to better methods of early detection.

Funds from Relay for Life events around the country support ACS research.

Blue has a family member with cancer at stage 4 and says this close association made Saturday's event much more personal.

Kaitlin Rose admitted that, like many young people, she does not give cancer the attention it deserves. She was captivated by the lessons imparted by survivors.

"It's inspiring, getting to learn what they went through," she said. "All you can do is be there for them."

Anna Rains considers it important to give back to people and the community. She does not personally know anyone who had a bout with cancer, she adds.

Rains is, however, aware of its impact.

"I've thought of what my family would go through," she pointed out.

Dozens of local businesses sponsored this year's Relay for Life. Teams including Friends Fighting As One, which according to the ACS website set a goal of raising $1,000 but has contributed over $11,000 instead.

Other teams who took part were Cancer Crusaders, St. Brendan Navigators, Girls Night Out, Graf and Sons, the Audrain Community Hospital Lifesavers, Southside Soldiers, Pin Oaks Living Center, ADM Mexico and the Astra club members.

"The community is trying to support those going through cancer," Blue said.

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