Re­lay for Life event draws 29 teams with $55k goal

Post-Tribune - - Local - BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tri­bune cor­re­spon­dent

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.

| SUN-TIMES ME­DIA

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.

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