"The question asked is why do I relay? I used to to think the reason I relayed was because I had a grandmother die with cancer many years ago and because there were members of my church that had it so I thought me walking and raising money was helpful to them," Luhring states on www.bartowrelayforlife.org. "Then about three years ago my dad went in to have a tumor removed on Valentine's Day. We knew it was a difficult surgery but didn't know that it was going to be life changing. The doctor came out to talk to us and informed my mom that it was cancer. Thymoma to be exact.
"He had to undergo radiation and is now cancer free. God has blessed us with him and his health for these years. I know now how close cancer can get to a family. The relay is more that just a weekend in my life. It is a year long event. I am thankful for the experience and the opportunity to walk not only for my dad but for those who have already gone on. Cancer is a killer and by participating in the relay, we are helping to get one step closer to a very much needed cure. So, to make a long story short, the answer to why I relay is my father, my daughter's grandfather, my mom's husband and my friend."
Luhring's story is one of many posted on www.bartowrelayforlife.org to reinforce the need for an event like Relay for Life on Sept. 10.
The overnight event in which team members take turns walking around Cartersville's Dellinger Park track culminates months of fundraising by participants. Last year, 1,601 walkers with 96 teams generated $279,750 for the American Cancer Society, which provides information, offers programs to patients, and funds research for cancer treatments and cures.
"A lot of times we want to put a face with what we're doing. So that's why we do the [online] testimonies," said ACS Northwest Senior Community Manager Gretchen Barkley. "So if they can think about are they doing it for themselves, are they doing it for their children or for a loved one or a co-worker, you have that person as a focus in mind to keep motivated and to just continue to do the best they can to do the fundraising.
"A lot of them [participate because] they've got somebody that's been touched by cancer and they don't want anybody else to have to go through what they've gone through. I would say that's the number one thing that you see repeated. It's just so we don't have to have anyone else go through the pain."
With about 74 groups already registered, Barkley believes the upcoming event is on track to recruit 120 groups and raise $300,000.
"The fundraising is what enables the American Cancer Society to do what it needs to to help those that are dealing with cancer and also to help with the research and to help prevent cancer in the future. So it has three real purposes," Barkley said, adding area groups are posting their fundraisers throughout the summer on www.bartowrelayforlife.org.
Some of the most popular benefits are food-related and family-oriented events, she said.
For more information about Relay for Life, to register a team or post a testimony, visit www.bartowrelayforlife.org or call Wes Moore at 770-547-0325 or Barkley at 770-429-0089.