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Relay for Life celebrates fighters, remembers survivors
Relay for Life opens with the Survivors Lap, where cancer survivors lead the way around the track while being honored and applauded by all participants. Barton County Relay for Life got underway Friday evening at the Hoisington Activity Center. The event raised funds for the American Cancer Society. - photo by Veronica Coons/Great Bend Tribune

HOISINGTON — When cancer survivors and their caregivers line up for the Survivors’ Lap at Relay for Life, it’s hard not to be overcome by emotion, standing on the sidelines, clapping for those who have battled this disease and won. The sheer number of faces recognized can be overwhelming, with the realization how many people’s lives are touched by cancer. As the survivors pass by, clapping and celebrating to the upbeat music, the memories of all those lost over the years surfaces, too.
Such was the case Friday evening as the 2017 Relay for Life opening ceremonies began, promptly at 6 p.m. American Legion Riders entered the Hoisington Activity Center to present colors and stand by as the Rev. Don Paden delivered the opening prayer. Hoisington Mayor Clayton Williamson delivered the proclamation designating Friday, June 9, as the 2017 Relay for Life, and a choir made up of survivors gathered and sang the National Anthem.
Mariann Shook, organizer of the event for 2016 and 2017, was recognized and applauded for her service and efforts in bringing Relay for Life to Hoisington. She, in turn, presented the 2017 Relay for Life Community Engagement Award to Heartland Cancer Center, a place where many attending that evening event have spent some time.
Survivors told their stories and entertainment was provided throughout the night. At 10 p.m., it was time to light luminaries. Each luminary represented not only a donation for cancer research, but also someone who had fought their battle with cancer, and either won or lost. On into the night, teams continued to walk, until at 3 a.m. the closing ceremonies were held, calling to a close the 2017 event.