Strength In Numbers Is Relay For Life

just one of over 100 luminaria placed around the walking track at the William Penn Pac on Saturday night.

Just one of over 150 luminaria placed around the walking track at the William Penn Pac on Saturday night.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Remembering that you are not alone is an important factor to those being impacted by cancer. Being alone was difficult to do as hundreds of supporters filled the William Penn PAC on Saturday for the annual Mahaska County Relay for Life.

For Wyatt Russell, Saturday was the culmination of nearly a year’s work. “Today has proved to be outstanding”.

Wyatt and his wife Amanda are first year co-chairs of an event that was looking for a spark of energy, and Wyatt and Amanda proved to be that spark.

Wyatt and Amanda Russell in the past had a Relay for Life team that participated in the yearly events. Having done that for three years, they knew how to raise money, becoming one of the top fundraising teams. After being approached by the area rep for the American Cancer Society to become more involved in the future, the couple thought that would be an awesome opportunity to help. It wasn’t long after that, they were soon approached about becoming co-chairs.

The desire to be a part of Relay for Life and take on the challenge of an event such as this came from how cancer had impacted the couple’s lives when a close family member became impacted with the disease. “That really lit a fire underneath us, and that’s what drove us to start a team in the first place.”

The couple continued to get further involved in Relay for Life, “Fell in love with the organization. Fell in love with the concept behind it.” said Russell. “We gave the initial spark, and they threw gas on the fire”, said Russell of the committee that helped to plan the event.

Then during their search for help with the committee for the event, “We had some of the most wonderful people step up to the plate”, said Russell.

“The community came out and supported us like we couldn’t even believe”, Russell said. But success was measured in more than dollars raised, it was that support an entire community can give to one another during their time of need. “The fundraising obviously goes back to help with cancer research, but on a local standpoint, it shows our survivors were willing to stand behind them” added Russell.

For Russell, a high point for him was seeing the amount of cancer survivors that were on hand for the survivors walk and lunch. “Amazing”, Russell says. “That blew me away.”

One of the most striking moments of the evening was the Luminaria Walk. There cancer survivors, donned in their purple shirts, took off making laps around the track inside the PAC. They were joined by family, friends and supporters.

When asking Russell how the ACS was impacting those of us in Oskaloosa, his response was surprisingly simple, “look at all the purple shirts”.



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