Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

January 23, 2014

Brownsburg Relay for Life kicks off

Devan Strebing
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — BROWNSBURG — The Brownsburg Relay for Life kicked off for the season at Buffalo Wild Wings this past Saturday.

The event is a kick-off for the 24-hour Relay for Life that takes place May 17 through 18 in Brownsburg.

“We have this to get people excited for the upcoming season,” Casey Trojnar, relay specialist for Hendricks and Putnam counties, said. “In January we start reminding people that there’s a relay. It’s the time when we want people to know that we’re gearing up for it.”

Lori Morrison with the American Cancer Society added, “This is to get the community inspired and to get teams signed up and provide them with resources and materials they need. In order to be a successful team, we’re giving them more information about what the event will look like and help them understand what American Cancer Society does and how they can get involved in fundraising.”

Members of the community such as local businesses, team captains from past years, and local schools were at the kickoff.

There are different events in Avon, Plainfield and Danville that will follow in the coming weeks.

“Each of the committees for each event makes the choices of where the kick-offs will be and they set them up with what works best with that community,” Trojnar said. “With Brownsburg’s, it’s more informational, and for the rest of the day, Buffalo Wild Wings has a ‘dine and donate day.’”

Kevin McCluskey is serving as the 2014 Brownsburg Event Chair. He has been on a Relay for Life committee for the past two years and has worked with signing up teams.

“The teams drive a lot of the energy,” he said. “The key thing to do is to get people to the event. If they see the positivity and understand the mission, hopefully they’ll come back and take part in the relay. This is the second year we will partner with Brownsburg Town Hall. Last year our mission was to have a safe, fun and positive message about the American Cancer Society and that’s what makes the relay such a fun event.”

Relay for Life started when a doctor became sick of seeing his patients passing away. He wanted to take a proactive approach in fighting against cancer. He walked 24 hours straight one day for cancer. With that, he started a movement that has spread across the country.

“He stuck to his idea of ‘cancer never sleeps,’ that’s why he walked for 24 hours, and most of our events go overnight to honor that tradition,” Trojnar said.

Sandy Tolle has honored the tradition for the past 10 years in her son Larry Tolle’s memory. He died of melanoma in 2004.

“We decided it would be good to get together as a relay team and heal over his death and celebrate his life,” she said. “It’s a family thing. We have as many as 65 members at the relay. We originally started in Westfield where he lived, then went to Zionsville and then came to Brownsburg and this has been home ever since.

“You take this on as a a personal event and get to share and listen to stories. We need to keep fighting and we need to find a cure. We need to stop having sad stories.”

Tolle comes to the kick-offs to share her story and to get some enthusiasm going about the relay.

On Saturday, she was introduced to fifth-grader Seth Spidell, who is going to take part in the relay in May.

“I’m doing Relay for Life because it makes me feel sad to think about all of the people with cancer who have to go through all that,” he said. “My best friend’s mom got breast cancer and I felt really bad and I wanted to do something about it so nobody in the whole world wouldn’t have to go through anything like that ever again.”

Spidell attends Cardinal Elementary School in Brownsburg and will be on his teacher’s team in May.

“I’m really proud to be doing this,” he said. “If I don’t get this now, then I’ll just keep working through my life trying to fix it. I’ll try to help as much as I can to help stop cancer.”

Anyone can start a team for Relay for Life. Usually someone starts one with a group of friends or a company that signs up with them.

All of the money raised at the kick-off and the Relay for Life event goes to the American Cancer Society to fund research and programs to use throughout the country and locally.

Last year’s Relay for Life event was very successful, and they already have about 120 people signed up for the event in May.

“We usually get about 500 people,” Trojnar said. “The opportunity to bring the community together is so special. We are able to do one in each town, and each one is different. They show what the towns are really like, a great way to demonstrate the characteristics of the town.”

The structure of the event is similar in the communities, with a model of what the event has to have.

“It has to last for 24 hours and there has to be a component for survivors, but beyond that, the event takes on the flavor of the community,” Morrison said. “The activities are different and each event takes on the life of the community.”

McCluskey added, “The venue makes it unique. Brownsburg has been very helpful and supports us. This is the first year the school corporation is supporting us and will be participating this year as well.”

Participants can sign up online or in person, or on the day of the event.

“We would like to get more survivors out to the event,” McCluskey said. “We support survivors with raising money for research and for helping them see other survivors and let them know they’re not alone. We’d like to get 1,000 people to the event. One of my dreams is we would be so large we would have to be somewhere else besides town hall. We’re not there yet, but maybe sometime in the future.”

The Brownsburg Relay for Life will run from 9:30 a.m. May 17 through 9:30 a.m. May 18. Meetings leading up to the event are scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 10, March 10, April 14, April 28, May 5 and May 12 at the Brownsburg Public Library.

To sign up for the Brownsburg relay, visit the website at www.realyforlife.org/brownsburgin.

For more information about Relay for Life, visit the website at www.relayforlife.org.

To contact the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-227-2345.