Over $100,000 raised at Relay event
2011 Little Mr. and Miss Relay named

Wanda English Burnett

The determination to find a cure for cancer was seen at the Relay for Life event held over the weekend when the rain came down, but the walkers and runners on the track didn’t stop.

More than 100 survivors took the first lap wearing their purple shirts signifying their victory over cancer. “This is your day,” Rita Seig, co-chair for the event said as she welcomed them and everyone participating.

The 2011 Ripley County event was a success as 34 teams signed up to participate helping to raise $108,600. This is an unofficial total with more funds being tallied.

From the kick-off to the end, the common ground was felt as people said they either knew someone with cancer or were a survivor themselves.

The Little Mr. and Miss Relay for Life pageant was held at 11 a.m. with seven participants: Machaela Cobler, Lilly Deaton, Mackenzie Stegemoller, Casey Back, Kyle Gaebel, Reid “RJ” Seig, and Cody Sims.

The title of Little Mr. and Miss Relay went to Machaela Cobler, daughter of Chad and Kelli Cobler of Osgood and Casey Back, son of Josh and Tara Back of Osgood. First runner up for Little Mr. Relay was Cody Sims, son of Terri and Bryan Sims of Batesville; and first runner up for Little Miss Relay went to Lilly Deaton, daughter of Joe and Kathy Deaton of Milan. RJ Seig, son of Rob and Rita Seig of Sunman was the top fundraiser in the boys’ category with Machaela Cobler taking the honors in the girls’ category. The Congeniality award went to Machaela Cobler.

Many of the children in the pageant had a vested interest in the day as grandparents were either survivors of cancer or had lost the fight.

Members of the Patriot Academy from Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, signed a team on just last week to be a part of the event. They had six young men who made quite a splash as they not only ran the track throughout the 24-hour period, but helped with other duties as well. They could be found putting someone in the “jail” or bailing them out. The jail was a source of fundraising as people paid for others to be incarcerated in the wood slated structure, with friends, hopefully, bailing them out with a little cash.

Throughout the day various events took place on the grounds of the Batesville High School track area with stage events such as the awards program at 7 p.m.

The Compassion Caregiver Award went to John Rennekamp for his exemplary care of his wife, Kari, who was smiling from the sidelines. John said the award was a “total shock” to him. He didn’t think about an award as he took care of his wife.

The Mary Margaret Moorhead Volunteerism award went to Rhonda Linkel, who has been a stalwart supporter of the Ripley County Relay for Life since its inception 16 years ago. She lost her mother to leukemia in 1984 and said she was “honored” to accept the award. She said the event is “near and dear to her heart” and she will continue the fight to honor her mother. Jennifer Morris nominated Linkel saying, “Thank you for making such a big difference.”

“I hate that disease” Mary Margaret Moorhead passionately told the crowd as she took the stage to present the award in her name. She has been an avid advocate for many years in Ripley County with her name being synonymous with fighting the fight to eradicate cancer.

Moorhead said the event has brought the county closer together. “We want to get rid of cancer,” she noted, saying it was no respecter of persons. Statistics show that Ripley County’s cancer incidence rate for 2011 is projected to be 147. That means there’s going to be 147 people this year who will hear the scary words, “you’ve got cancer.”

Brandy Graham, district community representative for the local American Cancer Society was at the event and said the ACS had made great strides, but still has a long way to go. She thanked those participating to raise money to find a cure and said it’s events such as these that will finally end the battle against the disease.

Bolstered by family and friends, Christina Day Sutton was given the Courage Award. She was nominated by close friends BJ Meyers and Teri Stolze and sister, Deanna Young.

Those gathered would hear how Sutton was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer five years ago. She has been through four rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and numerous surgeries. In April of this year she had to have emergency surgery due to a tumor.

“Christina is so deserving of the Courage Award,” noted Young in a speech just before Sutton was given the plaque. “She inspires everyone she meets with her story of triumph. Her matching hats, scarves, shoes and purses always make us smile. Many people tell stories of how she has given them strength to fight their cancer or fight their other battles...she certainly shows a positive and encouraging disposition.”

Young then read a poem she had written, “What Cancer Cannot Do to Christina Sutton” with the end being, “Cancer cannot keep Christina down!”

The awards ceremony was complete with honorees receiving a beautiful engraved glass plaque and bouquet of flowers.

From the beginning of the event where doves and balloons were released to the luminaria service where cancer survivor Lou Voegele of Batesville spoke words of encouragement, the event was hailed a huge success.

Jennifer Morris and Rita Seig, co-chairs of the event, along with Kari Moore, stage emcee, were thankful for all the help from those who they said, “made it happen.” Every participant has a crucial part and was thanked by the committee.

“Only the future will tell what good has been done here today,” Seig noted. All of the proceeds from the event will benefit research to find a cure for cancer.

Pictured above are Little Mr. and Miss Relay for Life 2011. Machaela Cobler and Casey Back, both from Osgood, took the top honors and were crowned at the event Saturday morning. They were given a sash and trophy. All the contestants were awarded a prize and were encouraged to ride a lap around the track after the pageant. Pictured below amidst pink and purple balloons, walkers, runners, those riding in wheelchairs and other powered machines, took to the track where they passed under the signed that read: START There is NO finish line until we find a cure. The 24-hour event saw people on the track the entire time whether it was cloudy, raining, or the sun shining. See additional photo coverage inside today's paper.