Twenty-five teams from Liberty, Hubbard, Girard, McDonald and Vienna spent 24-hours May 18 and 19 walking through Churchill Park where the Liberty Relay for Life has been held for the past five years. Previously the relay was held at the Liberty High School stadium.
One team was dedicated to Ryan Merkin, who died two years ago of a rare cancer at age 23.
Carol Merkin was among those walking for Team Ryan in memory of her nephew. Each team member wore a shirt with Ryan's photo on it.
''He had a rare cancer when he died. We want to make people more aware of all types of cancer. Our mascot is a zebra because doctors now have to look beyond the obvious, such as a horse, and look for the unobvious when looking for cancer, such as in the adrenaline gland,'' she said.
Merkin said her nephew was very determined and never gave up, graduating from college and completing an internship as a health administrator. A memorial fund was started and used for a gerentology scholarship because "that was what Ryan wanted to do for his career,'' she said.
Tammy Macklin, a cancer survivor was on the Girard City Survivors team, who all dressed with a 60s-theme. The team had 20 participants with about half of them cancer survivors.
''It has been absolutely wonderful to have the support from so many friends,'' Macklin said.
Walking in the relay were Fran Martin and Rosemary Cargill, both of Liberty, who were showing their support.
Martin, a cancer survivor, said, ''it gives me such a warm feeling to know that people are here supporting me and other survivors. The people here also remember the memory of those who are no longer with us.''
Annie Holzschuh, event co-chair, said her 79-year-old mother, Ann Daugherty, is a cancer survivor and was among those in the survivor's lap.
Holzschuh said she lost her sister to cancer in 2003.
''When you have the love and support we see here at the relay that really means a lot to the cancer survivors. It's amazing the number of survivors we get each year. The survival rate has gotten so much better because of the research that is finding cancer sooner,'' she said.
Debbie Mullarkey, event co-chair, said she lost both her sister and mother to cancer.
''When you see all the people here you get a wonderful feeling in your heart,'' she said.