John Kelleher Havre Daily News jkelleher@havredailynews. Com
There were moving moments and fits of laughter. There were touching tributes and hours of good times. It was all part of the Relay for Life program Friday night and Saturday morning. A total of $63,000 was raised, surpassing the $60,000 goal, “It was a fundraiser, but it was much more than that,” said Sue Swan, a committee member. She said it is a time whem people with cancer could get together and talk, while having a good time. “It has really turned into a great community event,” said Paulette Preeshl-Shipp, who co-chaired the event. People came from as far away as Iowa and Nebraska as well as from throughout the Hi -Line and Montana to take part in the all-night walk around the Havre High School track. Throughout the night, team members took turns doing the treks around the track. Some people had been diagnosed with cancer 30 years ago, others just learned about their disease only in May. A c t i v i t i e s ranging from “alligator wrestling,” to a quiz asking participants to name the most number of dog breeds, The walkers each had a story to tell. “I lost my mother to cancer in 1997,” said Bobbie Wilkins of Havre. She started walking at the Relay for Life last year as part of the Bear Paw Credit Union team. “It’s hard,” she said. “But it’s good to see so many people out here.” Like many people, her family camped out for the night. Wa n d a a n d Ru b e n McKinney walked for Wanda who got cancer in 1987. “With God’s help, I beat it,” she said. Now she wants to help other people beat. There was great laughter as her entire family gathered on the track including sisters and daughters who were visiting from as close as Chinook and as far away as Nebraska. “”I just got diagnosed,” said Kathy Richardson of Havre. The prognosis is good, she said, but it was still terrifying to hear the doctor tell her it was cancer. She couldn’t stay all night, but wanted to be there to show support and talk to other people in the same situation. Wally and Marjorie Duchscher of Havre had no direct connection with cancer, but decided to take part in the walk because it seemed like the right think to do. “It’s a good cause,” Wally said. “We are glad to help.” “Everybody may be affected by cancer someday,” he said. Throughout the night, luminaries were sold to light up the track. By 10 p.m., the track was encircled with the lights. The chatter stopped as it was time for the ceremony honoring those who who have died and who have survived cancer. Swan, who has been a committee member for the entire 10 years Havre has sponsored a Relay, read off the names of people honored with luminaries from a computer screen with the help of Havre High School Marie Deegan. As they read off the names, people bowed their heads and offered silent prayer. The lengthy list was punctuated by musical interludes by Havre High School students Carla Young, Carla Hellegard and Marie Kaercher, who sang “No More Tears.” At the end of the ceremony, Joe and Lena Lamphier and their son Jordan, sang a song. A ceremony was also held honoring the youngest cancer victim. Ten-year-old Mariah Sheehy of Big Sandy handed over the torch to Grace Gibson, 7, of Havre.