Trumbull County Relay for Life shows cancer survivors have won, again | News, , Jobs

Trumbull County Relay for Life shows cancer survivors have won, again | News, , Jobs
Trumbull County Relay for Life shows cancer survivors have won, again | News, Sports, Jobs

With a steady rain falling, cancer survivor Chris Richardson of Warren, center, helps carry the survivors banner during the opening survivors lap Saturday at the American Cancer Society’s Trumbull County Relay For Life at the St. Demetrios Community Center in Warren. This is the second year a combined Trumbull event took place.

WARREN — Surviving cancer goes beyond identifying and treating the excessive and abnormal reproduction of white blood cells.

Those who defeat the disease are often burdened with thoughts of its return and other possibilities that can impact life. The American Cancer Society, in hosting its second annual Trumbull County Relay For Life on Saturday, reminded survivors that they’ve won again.

Bill Bryant, a Relay For Life staff member for over 20 years, said he recently “kicked prostate cancer in the butt.” And before October, he had throat cancer, from which he also recovered.

“Life has been exceptionally good to me,” Bryant, 76, said. After winning his battles, with help from “the man above,” his neurologist and radiation oncologist in Austintown, Bryant explained that the event has never been more important to him.

“The importance in it, to me, is to teach, reach out, and give back to other people,” Bryant said. “I think awareness is extremely important. I’ve walked, ran and done the full gamut, but right now we’re surviving. “This is the first year that I have actually been a survivor, so life is good.”

The American Cancer Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for and supporting cancer patients through its research, previously hosted the event in several Trumbull County communities to benefit the organization. But since the coronavirus pandemic, relays have been scaled back, merged or disappeared altogether.

Jen Snodgrass, senior development manager for the American Cancer Society, said the survivors recognizing other survivors and caregivers, the luminary ceremony for those who lost their battle, and bringing the community together are three of the most important aspects of the event.

Aside from walking and running, there were also raffle baskets, food trucks, touch-a-truck with local first responders, games, CSL Plasma screenings, face painting, t-shirts, and luminaria sales. The 5K race began at 9 am, the survivor lap was at 11:30 am, and was followed by a special lunch for survivors. The event ended at 5 pm, and aimed to raise $77,000 this year.


Chris Richardson, a 50-year-old prostate cancer survivor from Warren, revisited the relay with his two daughters, Courtnai and Camille. He said his mother was a breast cancer survivor for many years, until she died in 2006 from multiple myeloma, which is why he would always participate.

“I walked in support of her,” Richardson said. “So this is a way to be able to honor her, and now in addition to that, it’s also having a sense of pride about supporting the mission of the American Cancer Society, being a survivor.”

Richardson said he also supports the event because he gets to be a part of something greater than himself.

“It’s not about competing, but just being thankful for life,” he said.

To those who wouldn’t regularly attend the event, Richardson added, “I think it’s important for people to recognize, be a part of, and support a campaign that you can stand by.” I have concluded, “Whether it’s the American Cancer Society, or the Multiple Sclerosis Society, be a part of something because you just never know the difference it can make.”

A leukemia survivor, Lisa Cordell, of Warren, attends the event every year, including her attendance at the former Courthouse Square location in downtown Warren. With her husband Ella Jim by her side Ella, Cordell, a 41-year survivor, said she’s always motivated to do the relay to help those who are going through it now.

Cordell, who was treated at St. Jude Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, wasn’t worried about Saturday’s rainy weather, and said, “It just makes me feel better.” She continued, “Every year it gets better and better, I like it here. It usually rains when we have a relay.”

Megan Schellhorn, of Howland, returned to the Relay For Life event for “the first time in a while,” she said. “I used to attend when it was a 24-hour event. But since then, I’ve become a breast cancer survivor, so the mission of Relay For Life has become more important to me.”

Schellhorn walked with her best friend, Deanna Andamasaris, her son, and her son’s friend. She placed third in the 5K in the women’s 40-49 group, while her son and her friend placed first and second in their group.

Schelhorn said she had a good time, but didn’t expect to place. “My friend and I just came to walk and be part of the event, and we weren’t really here to race, so we just walked and had a good time,” Schelhorn said.

“Just being part of the survivorship community is really impactful,” Schellhorn, founder of Pink Lights the Way nonprofit, said. “I know that this event helps all cancer survivors, so it’s important to me, as someone who runs a nonprofit to benefit cancer patients, to make sure that I’m out in the community supporting the other nonprofits that are doing the same thing. ”

“I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer, so I feel like coming out to support is important to everyone, a beautiful way to spend a Saturday morning,” Schellhorn said.

Jennifer Gray and her mother Sheryl Rattay, both breast cancer survivors, headed to Relay For Life for the first time with Jennifer’s twin daughters, Nicole and Ashley, 17.

Both Gray, 47, and Rattay, 65, said donating and bringing awareness to the cause were the main reasons they decided to walk on Saturday. “Seeing other people who survived, and celebrating,” Gray said, added another layer of importance. They also dedicated their time in memory of Rattay’s husband of her.

John Demetruk of Girard, a three-year survivor of skin cancer, said from the time he was first diagnosed, he lost 35 pounds, and his doctor told him he had a 50% chance of surviving.

“I’m getting younger and I feel good,” Demetruk said.

It was his first time attending the Relay For Life.

“The cancer walk itself brought me here, and supporting cancer. You never know when you might get it, so you’ve got to watch yourself. I never thought I’d have it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. My wife couldn’t make it; “she’s a survivor too, but here I am,” Demetruk said.

Have an interesting story? Contact Daniel Newman by email at [email protected]. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @TribDNewman.

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