NEW CASTLE —
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life took place over the weekend at Shenango High School.
It was the 20th anniversary for the New Castle fundraiser.
Relay for Life is a nationwide event held at thousands of spots across the country, all to raise money for cancer research, treatments and assistance to those battling the disease or the families they leave behind. According to the American Cancer Society, which sponsors the events, one in 100 Americans now participates in Relay.
This year’s New Castle Relay got under way just after 7 p.m. Friday as survivor Charlotte Sonntag cut the ribbon and led the way for the Survivors Walk.
Sonntag has battled breast cancer for just over a year. She has faced a full mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and constant needle poking, tests, blood work and prodding.
Today, she believes she is through the worst of it.
“This is not the end of the journey.” she said. “There is still a lot to go through. But the treatment for the disease itself, I believe that is done.”
Sonntag beamed as she snipped the opening ribbon with her 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, by her side.
“She is so happy, it’s been so hard to see her not be happy, but she is so happy now,” Lexi smiled.
“This has been an incredible journey,” Sonntag said, “a year of incredible blessings. It means the world to me to have been asked to cut the ribbon. I was excited and honored to be able to do it; even more honored and excited to do it with my family beside me.
“Without my parents and my kids (she has a son as well) and God, I never would have made it.”
The Survivors Walk is the first official lap of the event. Those who have survived the disease make a lap around the track, dressed in purple, as all other participants, visitors, volunteers and dignitaries line the sides of the track clapping and cheering on the survivors.
Survivors filled nearly a quarter of the track at Glenn “Pop” Johnston Stadium as they walked their lap with the songs “You’re an Overcomer” and “I will Survive” playing through the speakers.
“We had over 160 survivors registered for the Survivors Walk; as you can see many more came out,” committee member Jan Shoup observed.
Shoup joined the committee because her family has been deeply affected by cancer, and her husband is battling it now.
Another committee member, Carl Scungio, lost his daughter to the disease at 18 years old.
“She graduated in June and was gone by September,” Scungio said, a mist in his eyes. “I volunteer so nobody else has to lose one they love.”
Scungio estimated that at least 1,000 people were there for the event.
Nearly 60 teams, each with 15 to 25 participants, walked the track from 7 p.m. Friday until the “Final Lap” celebration at 5 p.m. Saturday. Participating teams raise pledges, sell items, hold drawings and raise money however possible for the event.
Corporate sponsors add their funds to the Relay by holding drawings, selling food and other products, and holding special events throughout the year, with proceeds donated to the event.
Since its beginnings 20 years ago, the New Castle Relay For Life has raised more than $4 million.
*To view a photo gallery and purchase pictures from the event, CLICK HERE.