Walking towards a cure
Organizer Peggy Carter Seal said a preliminary estimate of money raised at Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center was $50,000, a figure that will increase as the drive continues through August.
Some of the walkers, including more than a dozen clad in purple T-shirts who led off the evening with a survivor’s lap about 7:30 p.m., were cancer survivors. Others were caregivers for loved ones stricken by the disease, while most everyone at the event had a friend or family member whose lives were affected by cancer, and in some cases, claimed by it.
Among those were the Bunco Babes For Life, who adopted the name for their monthly gatherings and began participating in the Relay For Life after a member was stricken by breast cancer. The club’s battles have continued – the previous Friday, Brenda Strehl’s mother, Marilyn Burt, died three months after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Friday, Strehl was accompanied by her father, Phillip Burt, a cancer survivor himself.
“It’s very meaningful, just because we do this anyway for our cancer survivors, but now we’re the caregivers, so we’re trying to give back,” said Strehl, adding that despite her loss, it felt good to be there.
“It’s a very moving experience and a healing experience, also,” Strehl said.
Fellow Bunco Babe Dawn Harlow’s brother, Jamie Brooks, died in October 2016 after a battle with kidney cancer. She and her mother, who was also at Relay, had been his caregivers.
“It brings back their memories in such a good way, because you see the survivors out here, and I’m very hopeful that one day we will find a cure for cancer, and that we’ll have more survivors on the track, and we won’t be leaving loved ones behind,” Harlow said.
Other Bunco Babes are breast cancer survivors, while Mary Jane Phelps (better known as a Woodford District Court judge) had just returned from Texas, where she’d attended the funeral for her mother-in-law, a victim of breast cancer.
“We kind of worked everything around so we could get back for this, because I always enjoy being with my Bunco buddies and doing this, because it’s such a good thing in the community and it’s a very good cause,” Phelps said.
With the sounds of auctioneer Courtney Roberts ringing from the Huffman Pavilion, Ronnie Durbin, who helped carry the banner in the survivor’s lap, talked about surviving three bouts with melanoma.
“So far they’ve got it every time, so I’m tickled,” Durbin said. “It’s scary – when they call you and tell you you’ve got a cancer … and you’ve got to be in surgery within an hour after they call you, it scares you to death.”
Durbin said he’s fine now, and that he was honored to be among others who’ve battled the disease or helped loved ones do so. In fact, he was better than fine – Friday was his last day of work after 38 years as a county police officer, deputy sheriff and, for the last 11, assistant to Woodford Judge-Executive John Coyle.
“I’m going to miss everybody I’ve worked with, but I’m still going to be here in town. I’m just not going to have to get up at 7 o’clock every morning to go to work,” Durbin said.
If you’d like to contribute, you can go to www.relayforlife.org/woodfordky or send a check to the American Cancer Society, 1640 Lyndon Farm Court, Suite 104, Louisville, 40223.