Relay for Life participants do a lot more than walk. They rock. The Community ALL STARS team from Community Skilled Healthcare and Assisted Living in Warren, for example, is rocking out the theme of "Rock and Rolling" for this weekend's event in Warren.
"We're gonna rock and roll out cancer," said team captain Rose Nye of Howland.
Teams are creative with their themes. The team made up of people from the offices of child support, children's services and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in Trumbull County is going to get down and dirty with "Weed out cancer, cultivate a cure."
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
In front, Ashley Swegan, and back from left, Joy White, Richard “Froggy” Roberts and Joy Stinson from the Community ALL STARS Relay For Life team from Community Skilled Healthcare and Assisted Living in Warren are shown at last year’s Relay.
And Blessed Sacrament's team is going under the big top with their theme of "Come One, Come All for the Greatest Cure on Earth."
What's the point of all these eye-catching, colorful and sometimes crazy ideas?
"People, when they see you do silly things, they give you money," said Richard Roberts, who dressed up for the ALL STARS as a frog last year. He's been a cow and a fashion model (of the opposite gender), and this year there may be a juke box walking laps.
WHAT:?Warren Relay For Life
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, May 7 to
6 p.m. Saturday, May 8
WHERE: Courthouse Square, downtown Warren
Roberts, 64, is a 15-year cancer survivor. He guessed he's sold about 800 candy bars just in the past year and a half.
But despite his go-getter attitude, he credits the people that work with him for his team's success.
"I'm buggin' them for money, and they write their checks with smiles," he said.
Nye said the nursing home administration gave the team a choice from the beginning - they would either provide food or give a one-time donation. The team chose food, and now every other Friday they have a food sale that may include hot dogs or different kinds of pizzas. The company also buys the team's shirts.
Each month, the team raffles a themed basket, they have sponsored a trip to the Meadows casino that netted $1,010, and they have an annual bake sale. Baskets, including one with Cleveland Indians tickets and money for dinner in the city, also will be part of the team's tent at the Relay event.
Nye said her grandmother died from cancer, and although she doesn't have any children, she has four brothers who do, so she is motivated to get involved.
"It could happen to their children," she said. "I can feel I did everything that I can possibly do."
Nye said there are about 105 walkers on her team, but because of heel spurs she won't be doing much more than a lap this year.
"I can't always walk, but I sure can boss," said the team leader.
Donna Bluedorn at Trumbull County CSEA, JFS and CSB said she became a crusader in her building because for 10 years of cancer treatment, she didn't pay a dime.
In 1989, Bluedorn became a widow and went back into the work force with a daughter in college and two more at home. During some general testing, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She said the head of security at family court had just lost his wife to cancer. They became friends, and he encouraged her to get involved in a research program.
She participated in two different studies, each five years long.
"People in it were like a family," she said of the study. "I never feared cancer because I was so thoroughly watched. I knew right then and there what was going on and what the next step was. It gave you a free mind."
First through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, and then through Relay, Bluedorn, beginning in 1990, was able to join the fight against cancer, which she said is not only out of gratitude and the desire to help others, but because she worries about her three daughters.
"Being cancer free at that moment, I was given a gift, and that was a gift I needed to carry through," she said.
The survivor is now married to that head of security.
Blessed Sacrament Parish is in its 11th year of having a Relay For Life team. On Friday, the Notre Dame School on the campus had a mini-Relay, with each student garnering sponsors for the 10 laps they walked that day.
The church gets involved with the Trumbull New Theater plays to raise money, has a pie sale and a bake sale, raffles a quilt, sells daffodils and holds garage sales.
The parish will offer a "Kids' Cupboard" resale event in August, with items just for children. The fee to occupy a space at the sale will go toward Relay, but vendors can keep their profits if they choose, and the parish will even take care of the leftover merchandise at the end of the event.
"We've kept in mind the economy for families," said Paul Pierce, director of communications at Blessed Sacrament. "With every event that we do, it seems like there's another purpose."
Looking ahead to the Relay, team member Jim Lazor said they have an opening lap planned that will "beat the band." The team will have a professional clown at their site, and they offer children's games each year.
"We're always calling to mind why we do this - for our survivors and those who have reached the end of their fight," Pierce said, also mentioning the recognition of caretakers and families. "We're very much an outreach community."
Pierce also said one of the features of the parish team is not just what they'll do at their tent, but the comraderie team members form throughout the year.
Judy Gerrity, who is captain of the parish team, said, "It's always about fellowship time together."