By CHERYL SCHWEIZER
For The Sun Tribune
OTHELLO — Many of the teams participating in the Othello Relay for Life-Heart of the Basiin Saturday afternoon had a story.
E.J. Guerra and his wife Linda were running Team Chuck. “We have a friend that passed away in December 2017,” E.J. said. Chuck Kruger started Team Chuck before he got cancer, and his friends and wife Darlene kept it going. Darlene is the team captain - but she couldn’t be at the relay Saturday because she has been diagnosed with cancer.
Darlene Kruger is still the team captain. “She’s been calling us all day” in support, Linda Guerra said.
The Weezers and Geezers team got its name from its founder Bill Briggs, who quipped the team was filled with wheezers and geezers, said team member Dennis Borgman. Briggs lost his life to cancer. The Weezers and Geezers are still walking during the relay.
The Othello relay had raised about $16,000 as of Saturday afternoon, with more to come after the relay, said co-chair Melissa Martinez. That’s more than the relay earned last year, she said. It’s the 14th relay in Othello since 2006.
“My mom is a survivor,” Martinez said. She’s been walking in a relay since her mom was diagnosed.
The relay is, she said, a good way for the community to come together for something important. “Cancer touches everybody. And if it hasn’t yet, it’s more than likely to.” The relay, and the money raised, is a way to fight back.
“We hate it (cancer). We want it gone,” Martinez said.
“It (the Relay) raises money for research,” Borgman said. Proceeds also go to help cancer patients undergoing treatment, including travel and lodging expenses.
There is good news in the fight against cancer, Borgman said. “Amazing things are happening all the time.”
Survivors led the first lap around Pioneer Park. Walking (or rocking – there were a couple of rocking chairs) was one of the activities, but there were lots of others – games, a silent auction, snacks for sale including lattes and popcorn, tamales and pizza.
The finale was the luminary ceremony. Luminaries are candles in paper bags, purchased in honor of cancer victims and survivors, and for the encouragement of people fighting cancer. They lined the walking path and are lit after dark; for one lap they provide the only illumination. In Othello the luminaries are weighed down by canned food, which was donated to the Othello Food Bank when the relay ended.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.