Relay For Life kicks off Friday


It was brain cancer that claimed the life of Lavonne Lewis’ father.

Years ago, prior to the advent of the advance diagnostic equipment available today, it was inoperable.

“They could not locate it,” Lewis said.

When cancer strikes in your family, Lewis said, “there’s always the fear that


you’re going to get it.”

“But I was never really thinking that I would have breast cancer,” she said.

Lewis had gone for regular mammograms but she discovered a lump while exercising one day.

After battling the disease in 2005, Lewis is now a seven-year survivor.

She has also been chosen to serve as the Honorary Chair of this year’s Susquehanna County Relay For Life and is a member of the team, “Hope United.”

Relay For Life kicks off Friday, June 22, at the track at theMontroseAreaHigh Schoolwith the opening Survivor’s Ceremony at6:30 p.m.The family-friendly event features food, games and activities.

Reflecting back to the time of her diagnosis, Lewis said, “It takes you over for a little while. Your mind goes in so many directions.”

Her treatment included four rounds of chemotherapy. “It takes all of your strength away,” she said.

The time spent shuttling back and forth to see doctors and for treatments also consumes your life, said Lewis.

“Transportation is a hardship for some,” she said.

It’s also one of the American Cancer Society programs – Road to Recovery – that Relay events help support.

Finding out you have cancer “makes you feel you are the only one this has ever happened to – you feel like you are on an island,” Lewis said.

But getting involved in Relay For Life offers a built-in support system for those going through the treatment process, survivors and caregivers.

Lewis said, “It lets people know they are not alone in this. Once you allow yourself to open up, you find so many people who can help you.”

Lewis found Jennifer Button-Weller, a Relay team captain who encouraged her to get involved.

She has also found encouragement from survivor Bonnie Morgan who has been a mentor for Lewis’ first year in Relay For Life.

Lewis said her fellow Relayers are an enthusiastic bunch committed to raising money and awareness in the hopes of finding a cure.

“The more people pitch in a little bit, you get where you want to go,” she said.

Those pitching in during the event include the following Relay For Life teams:


Harford Vol. Fire Co.

Team Captain: Gail Batzel

The Harford Vol. Fire Co. team is relaying to remember those we have lost, and to honor those who are still with us. We do it because, just maybe, one more dollar raised will be the difference in finding a cure.

As a fire company, we deal with loss and tragedy far too often. Doing the Relay is a way for us to not only give back to our community that supports us but it also gives us an opportunity to celebrate life.

We celebrate the lives of all those that have fought and won; and we encourage and support those still fighting. We are taught to “Never Give Up”, and that’s exactly what we are doing. No matter how bumpy the road, no matter how curvy the path, we will push forward.


Catherine’s Crusaders

Team Captain: Jennifer Strickland

2012 is our 6th official relay year as “Catherine’s Crusaders Team” even though many of our current team members have been involved in some way with the Susquehanna County Relay for Life event since its creation.

Catherine’s Crusaders is a team honoring the memory of Catherine Arnold who was an original member of the Susquehanna County Relay for Life Event.  Catherine was a cancer survivor for nearly 20 years after her original cancer diagnosis in 1982.

Team caption Jennifer Strickland is a granddaughter of Catherine Arnold.  Jennifer also serves as a co-chairperson of the Susquehanna County Relay Planning Committee and a co-chairperson to the entertainment chair.  The rest of “our team” consists of family and friends of four generations of “Loved Ones of Catherine Arnold” ranging in ages from four to 88 years.

Besides Catherine Arnold, many of our team members have loved ones who have succumbed to cancer, are currently battling cancer, or are currently in remission from cancer. And as we are all aware, each of us individually never know when we may ourselves be diagnosed with the ‘Big C’!  So, for ourselves and all our loved ones, we relay so that hopefully the “Big C” will be wiped out and no one or their loved ones will fall victim to it.

We thank all of our loyal supporters for your help in making our fundraising events raise money to this worthy cause.


Angels Among Us

Team Captain: Debbie Smith.

This is the second year the team ‘Angels Among Us’ is involved in Relay. The team is made up of family and friends who also can be classified as “caregivers.”

The team was founded to honor Smith’s sister, Judy Beers-Betts who was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in November 2009. After an 18-month battle, Beers-Betts lost the fight on April 21, 2011.

Walking the long night is a symbol of the “journey through cancer.” It signifies a person going through treatment. You start off and you’re strong like when you’re diagnosed. Atfive o’clockin the morning you’re exhausted so it’s really tough but you keep walking.

We’ve lost many family members to cancer and also have family and friends that are fighting the fight 24/7 which gives our team even more reason to “Walk together to fight CANCER and never give up HOPE!!


Button-Weller Relay Team

Team Captain: Jennifer Button-Weller

This will be our 9th year participating in the Relay For Life.  In 2003 Button-Weller’s father, Donnie Button, was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia.

After a long, hard battle he was told he was in remission in March 2004.  He underwent a clinical trial. The treatment that he received saved his life.  As a family we decided that we wanted to get more involved and give back to the American Cancer Society.

We want more families to have the positive experience that we have had.

Over the years we have all met more and more people who are fighting their own battles against cancer.

Weller said, “My Dad has become somewhat of a “counselor” to a lot of people.  It seems he was specially chosen to go through his own battle with cancer so that he could help others.”

Through the Relay for Life the team has met some very special people that have touched their lives in ways that they can’t describe. Some have fought the battle and won and others have “earned their wings” and will forever live on in our memories.

The Button-Weller Relay Team encourages others to join in this fight!  This year come out to the Relay For Life and experience how special this event truly is!


Vanessa’s Elk Lakers

Team Captain: Vanessa Smith

My name is Vanessa Smith I am a senior atElkLake. Relay for Life is my senior project. My team is called Vanessa’s Elk Lakers. I relay because Jen Button-Weller inspired me to and because of this, I plan to have a future in cancer research.




Hope United

Team captain – Andrew Granick

Although a first year team, the 14 members who make up “Hope United” are no strangers to Relay For Life. Each team member has been involved with Relay as either a captain or a member in the past.

When some members’ teams fizzled out, Granick asked a few of those friends if they would like to form a team with him as captain, and they agreed.

The result was amazing.

Hope United is a team of survivors, caregivers and supporters who have been affected by cancer in some way.

The Henry Family

Team Captain: Lorrie Henry

The Henry Family relays for their mom, Carol Henry. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in October 2009. She fought with surgery and radiation with the hopes that the cancer was contained. Unfortunately, it was not. In December 2010, the doctor told her that the cancer had spread to her lungs.

Henry said, “Carol is one of the strongest people we know – physically, mentally and spiritually. Cancer will not get the best of her. She has been fighting for over a year and a half now and, as a result, this dreadful disease has made it hard for her to walk, so her family will be walking for her in this Relay.”

Carol Henry is Lorrie’s mother-in-law. “She is the sun to our rainbow,” said the captain.

Carol has seven beautiful children that will be wearing the colors of the rainbow during this walk. Her children are coming from as far away as Heath,Texas, andHerndon,Va., to share this special weekend with her.


Fairdale Grange

Team Captain: Dave Hibbard.

Fairdale Grange is the only team that has participated in all 18 years of the Susquehanna County Relay for Life.

The Grange team Relays as a community service. In the past 17 years, the team has raised over $70,000 for the American Cancer Society as part of its Relay for Life efforts.


South Auburn Community

Team Captain: Martha Lott. South Auburn Community team began around 16 years ago. It started off as one person selling roasted corn at the Relay for Life event.

The South Auburn Grange than took over the following year, the next year the South Auburn Grange asked the South Auburn United Methodist Church Youth Group to take on the team.  The team has evolved into a community event with the South Auburn Grange sponsoring the team each year.

South Auburn started by raising less than $100 the first few years at the Relay to raising over $20,000 one year.

Why does this team and community work so hard to raise funds and awareness for cancer? They fight because many have been affected by this disease. In 2003 the team lost one of its members, Chuck Love, to cancer.


Gibson Gaitors

Team Captain: Dawn Meagher.

This is Meagher’s eleventh year at the Susquehanna County Relay. She walks because her father was diagnosed with cancer and succumbed to the disease in 2007. “I want to help find a cure so other people can have their dads and grandpas longer,” said Meagher.




Team Captain: Kimberly Wells.


Cabot Oil & Gas

Team Captain: William desRosiers.





About the 2012 Relay For Life

Date: Friday-Saturday, June 22-23

Place:MontroseAreaHigh School track

Theme: Rainbow of Hope

Event Chair: Peter Bell

Special event times:

Opening Survivor Ceremony: Friday,6:30 p.m.

Survivor Dessert Reception: Friday,7 p.m.

Luminaria Ceremony: Friday,9 p.m.

Survivor/Caregiver Brunch: Saturday,9-11 a.m.

Also featuring: Basket raffles, silent auction, DJ & karaoke, bingo, scavenger hunt, dance competitions and more. Plus, many of the Relay teams also have games, raffles and baked goods available at their campsites.

Food: Pulled pork, wimpies, steak sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, desserts.

Benefits: Proceeds from Relay For Life benefits the American Cancer Society.

FYI: Relay For Life is a family-friendly event filled with games and activities for the whole family to enjoy. You need not be a member of a Relay team to attend the event. For more information about Relay For Life in Susquehanna County, contact Peter Bell at or Cindy Delaney, of the American Cancer Society, at