Relay for Life event draws 29 teams with $55k goal
CHESTERTON — Jennifer Dehenes went through a long list of family members who are surviving or have died from cancer.
The list includes her. Dehenes was diagnosed last year with lung cancer.
Saturday, at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Chesterton Middle School, she participated on Team Daniel, organized by her cousin, Daniel Alexander, who is a brain cancer survivor. In all, more than 30 people participated on the team.
“I have my good days and bad days. I’ve been sick for a few days, but I refuse to miss this,” the Chesterton resident said. “It means a lot to me and my family.”
Organizers of the walk, which started at noon Saturday and continued through the night to 6 a.m. Sunday, said 29 teams and around 250 people had signed up to participate.
The goal of the fundraiser was $55,000.
“We’re halfway there, but we have until Aug. 31 to reach it,” said Janet Wartman, a Relay for Life specialist with the cancer society for the region.
Teams set up tents and canopies along the walking track, where they had various items for sale, as well as a silent auction, to help reach the fundraising goal.
There also was a dunk tank and games, live music and a visit from a zookeeper with the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City, who brought a hedgehog, a ferret, an alligator and other creatures to show the crowd.
Bailly Elementary School in Chesterton had two teams, Bailly’s Bunch, made up of teachers, support staff and others associated with the school, and Bailly’s Bunch Two, made up of students.
Marian Danko, who retired as the school nurse at Bailly last year, said about 32 kids and more than 65 adults were participating. It’s the fifth year the school had a team.
As school nurse, Danko said she had several students who had cancer, as well as teachers and spouses of the staff.
“It really touches you,” she said. “It’s just a way of giving back.”
Principal Kevin Zeck said the team is organized by the school’s support staff, which also has other fundraisers, including selling cookie dough and suckers, to raise money for the cancer society.
“Our staff has experienced a lot of loss and a lot of survivorship as well, so four our staff, it’s meaningful,” he said.
Washington Park Zoo zookeeper Amber Jenks (center) holds a hedgehog while Katelyn Hyde, 9, of Valparaiso and Cassie Nay of Chesterton take a look Saturday during the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Chesterton Middle School.