During Monday's Birthday Bash, Relay For Life volunteers celebrated the joy of birthdays - and remembered people who ran out of birthdays when cancer struck.
The third annual celebration - which kicks off Relay For Life week - took place Monday in the barn at Hedges-Boyer Park.
Deb Hilborn of the American Cancer Society said this is the 13th year for Relay For Life in Tiffin. During the first event in 1999, 12 teams at Heidelberg University raised $35,000. Last year, 40 teams at Hedges-Boyer Park raised $123,729. Seneca County, including Fostoria's event, has raised $2,815,933 total.
PHOTO BY VICKI JOHNSON
After presentations at Monday’s Birthday Bash, volunteers Chris Nominee (left front) and Elaine Staib serve cake and punch to cancer survivor Jim Roberts.
For her devotion to helping cancer patients, the second Peg Lucius Dash Award was presented to Karen Gies, manager of the Mercy Cancer Center at Tiffin, by Dave Lucius and Jill Gosche. The award is named after Peg Lucius, who died of cancer, and a poem called "The Dash," which is about living life to fullest during the "dash" between a person's birth date and death date.
Joseph Kaminski, a new specialist in radiation oncology at Mercy Cancer Center, said he chose to move Tiffin because he wanted to work in a small town.
"I wanted to raise my family is a safe and strong community," he said.
Relay For Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, starts at 6 p.m. Friday at Hedges-Boyer Park and continues through noon Saturday.
Chris Krahling of the American Cancer Society related her story of her son's death of brain cancer.
"He died and he didn't get any more birthdays," she said. "He was 17."
She said she missed his high school graduation and his college years, as well as his wedding and the grandchildren he might have given her.
"I have to miss all of those birthdays," she said. "If he was here I would have so much more in my life."
Volunteer Lee Martin told his son's story.
"Mine had a happy ending," he said. A researcher at the University of Michigan found a method that helped his son.
"How do you put a value on that?" he said. "That means more than you will ever know."
Mayor Aaron Montz and Seneca County Commissioner Dave Sauber also related stories about family members who fought cancer.
"I can tell you I can't wait to wear a bra again," Sauber said, referring to the annual decorated bra auction at the Relay event.
Barb Vogel of Rock Run Bulk Foods said she has donated two cakes in each of the three years in memory of her husband, Dean Vogel Sr., who died of cancer not long before the first Birthday Bash.
"Each year, it gets a little easier," she said.
Cancer survivor Mary Sauber said she will be officially deemed cancer free in October. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
"I am so blessed and I am so fortunate," she said. "I get to see my grandchildren and enjoy my family because I have another birthday."
"It's not only about the money," Martin said. "That's the secondary thing we do. It's about giving people hope."