Hancock County Relay for Life: Attacking All Cancers

Gary Gjerstad, 2018 Relay for Life Ambassador, led the first lap of the Relay. Gjerstad was accompanied by ACS Community Manager Steve Lovik (left) and Gene Guenther.

Rebecca Peter|The Leader

Hancock County has participate in the Relay for Life for 20 years. Ten teams participated in the 2018 Relay, which raised an estimated $47,000 for the American Cancer Society. Donatations will be accepted through mid-August. 

GARNER – “Attacking All Cancers and Giving Hope” was the theme of the 20th annual Hancock County Relay for Life, held Friday, June 8 at the Garner Veterans Memorial Recreation Center. The fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS) raised approximately $47,000 for cancer research and ACS programs.

This year’s Relay had 10 registered teams, and 78 registered participants. One hundred, eighty-five luminaires in honor of those who survived cancer or in memory of those who lost their battle were on display during the Ceremony of Light.

Relay for Life coordinator Linda Webner of Garner said the ACS Relay for Life actually began in 1985. “Today the Relay program is more than just a fund-raiser,” Webner said. “It's about a community coming together to support each other and the work of the American Cancer Society.

 “So much has been accomplished since Relay for Life began. And while the fight isn’t over yet, you can bet when the final chapter on cancer is written, the ACS Relay for Life will be in the final chapter.”

 “Families, friends, businesses, children and neighbors, we’re all here for the same reason. To put an end to cancer.”

Relay Ambassador

Gary Gjerstad of Britt, 2017 Honorary Relay for Life Ambassador, shared the story of his cancer journey.

Gjerstad has dealt with cancer for nearly a decade. In 2009 he was diagnosed with lymphoma in his bone marrow. In 2011 the cancer had reached an advanced stage, where there was no choice but for chemotherapy.

He underwent aggressive treatment, including 32 chemotherapy sessions, eight platelet transfusions.

In April of 2012, he contracted a serious case of pneumonia and a lung infection.

Gjerstad acknowledged that he could have said “woe is me’ at this point…but being the eternal optimist, I chose not to and was able to work my way through it.”

Read the complete story in the June 13 Leader.