Cancer survivor thanks Relay for Life|
|Honorary survivor Arlette Puls credited those involved with Relay for Life and similar events for her ability to speak and be a part of the event at opening ceremonies for the annual fund-raiser Friday night.|
In remarks that brought a few tears and some smiles, Puls thanked the “wonderful family” of survivors and caregivers involved in the event, which opened under sunny skies with a goal of raising $58,000 over the next 12 hours.
Puls touched on her cancer journey, tracing it to the death of her firstborn son when she said she basically, lost the will to fight. His spirit gave that back to her, she said.
“There is nowhere else as wonderful as this community,” Puls said. “Everyone should be so proud of that.”
She credited the cancer center at Langlade Hospital, noting that throughout her treatments she never felt scared or alone.
And most of all she credited those present at the Relay.
“If it weren’t for all of you, I wouldn’t be here, or probably wouldn’t be here, tonight,” she said, adding “I am a survivor because of you.”
After clipping a ceremonial ribbon opening the event, the Antigo High School drumline and Puls led the survivors on a counterclockwise walk around the track. Caregivers walked clockwise, meeting at the east center and merging down the center together, signifying the journey taken.
The program opened with the drumline, Boy Scout Troop 644 color guard and Pledge of Allegiance led by Scout Brendan Uran. Connie Miller sang the national anthem.
Event Chairman Jolene Guenthner stressed the excitement of the evening and that she bleeds “Relay purple.”
“We are creating more birthdays because we are doing what we can with what we have,” she said.
Langlade Hospital Administrator Dave Schneider reviewed some cancer statistics. There will be 1.7 million diagnoses this year, he said, and 585 people will die of cancer. In the state, 32,000 will be diagnosed and there will be 11,300 deaths.
The good news, he said, is that the benchmark five-year survival rate has climbed to 70 percent.
“Cancer is no longer a dreaded killer,” Schneider said, “It is more like a chronic disease instead of a death sentence.”
He credited research funded by dollars raised through events such as the Relay for the change.
“Tonight, you are the headlines,” he said. “In Antigo, some 200 to 300 people got together to make the world better...Someday we will have a cure for cancer.”
As Relay opened, the area around Listle Field was turned into a makeshift campground, with pull-behind campers, pop-up units and large motorhomes all taking positions around the track.
Activities will continue through the evening with music by Curt Parsons, the BC Band with Charlie Kirsch and Brian Hayes, Mel Franzen and Stone Soup Brothers, and Charlie Bretl with the L.A. ThrillBillies. The deejay “SemperFi” will take the overnight shift.
A poignant highlight, the luminaria ceremony, was held at 10 p.m. Gary Hartl read the names.
Other activities throughout the evening included free swimming at the Clara R. McKenna Aquatic Center, Zumba, a “Sassy Santa,” and, late night, a costume contest featuring “TuTus for TaTas.”
Breakfast was served at 6:15 a.m. this morning followed by a closing ceremony when awards and team totals were be announced.
Honorary survivor Arlette Puls leads the first lap at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Friday at Listle Field.
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