Noelle Franz’s husband died of gastric cancer in 2011, and on Saturday, she and her Relay for Life team will walk laps to honor him.
When Franz’s husband was first diagnosed, Franz got involved with Relay, in part, to overcome the feeling of being helpless to do anything to help him, she said.
Now, she’s a team captain and on the board of directors for Ascension’s Relay for Life event, and she keeps going because every time she looks at her son, she wants him to live in a world where there are cures for cancer.
All of the Relay for Life events around the nation raise money for the American Cancer Society, said Michele Wingett, who, along with fellow volunteer coordinators Rhonda Collums, Roxanne Cranfield and Penny Cade, are organizing the event this year.
“It’s at Cabela’s now, so I think that will be a good thing for us,” Wingett said.
The event was first held in the Tanger Outlet Mall parking lot, so they got a fair number of people driving by who stopped in to see what was happening. Then it was moved to Lamar-Dixon Expo Center , with not as much drive-by traffic, she said.
“We’ll have the shoppers coming by, and hopefully, they’ll stop in,” she said, adding that there will be plenty for the whole family to do, including a collection of team-driven booths offering food, games and inflatables around the walking path where relay participants will be doing laps.
Many of the booths will be doing something to raise funds, Wingett said, though many teams already have met their fundraising goals for the year.
Each team is asked to raise at least $1,000, she said. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
Everyone has his or her own reasons for walking, she said. Wingett’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005, and she started participating in 2006, she said.
He survived, she said, but she also walks for her father-in-law, who died of lung cancer in 2012, just six weeks after being diagnosed. Like Franz, she walks for her own children, because now there is a history of cancer on both sides of the family.
Kim Myers, publicity chairwoman for the race, walks for her mom and father-in-law, both cancer survivors, and Brandi Chaney, a daughter of her close friend who died of ovarian cancer in March 2012. She was 30 years old and one of those people who lit up so many lives, whose untimely death seemed unbearable, Myers said.
These many years later, their team, the Brandi Bunch, has grown into its own cobbled-together, constantly morphing family of people who are fighting cancer and those left heartbroken by the disease.
“We keep walking because cancer never stops, and neither will we,” Franz said.
The relay is from 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the Cabella’s parking lot, 2200 W. Cabela Parkway, Gonzales.
More than 34 teams have raised some $50,000 to date.
For more information, search for the event on www.cancer.org.