High winds and some rain didn't damper the walk with the American Cancer Society on April 20.
As Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen spoke to a crowd huddled under a big, white tent in Central Park at Town Center, he said he was attending Relay for Life for two reasons.
“One: I’m a cancer survivor myself, and I’m proud of that,” Hansen said. “And then the other is to thank you all. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to do this, and we wouldn’t be able to fight cancer.”
Although winds and gloomy skies covered Town Center on the evening of Friday, April 20, the 2018 Flagler County Relay for Life kicked off at 6 p.m. with the national anthem sung by Flagler Palm Coast High School student Samantha Shumaker, followed by brief speeches from Hansen, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland and Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Organizational Services Division Chief Mark Strobridge.
"Keep the fight up. That's what I'm here to say."
- MARK STROBRIDGE, Flagler County Sheriff's Office Organizational Services Division Chief
Each of the three shared how cancer has affected their lives differently.
“My brother-in-law Todd is fighting for his life,” Holland said. “The struggle has altered the lives of all the members of my family who love and support him. His strength and positive attitude inspires me every day. So, just like you, I am uplifted by the courage I sense in this crowd. And, like you, I’m longing to share my hope for a cure and positive outcome.”
Holland encouraged the community members present to continue working to educate others about the American Cancer Society and its efforts through Relay for Life.
“So, lace up those walking shoes, and prepare to motivate all those who share in this journey,” she said.
Strobridge took the stage and shared a story about how his father was diagnosed with cancer at age 38. He said that his father fought it for decades, but eventually, when he was nearly 89, he “finally succumbed” to the disease.
“Keep the fight up,” Strobridge said. “That’s what I’m here to say.”
Soon after the speeches, the trio placed medals with purple ribbons around the necks of the survivors at the event, who then took a lap around the lake for the survivor’s walk, which was led by Palm Coast Fire Department Honor Guard Cmdr. Patrick J. Juliano playing the bagpipes. Palm Coast brain cancer survivor Matthew Hartnoll, 13, followed just behind him with the ceremonial torch.
After the walk, Palm Coast resident Jenny Hack shared her experience living with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma in bone marrow.
Hack emphasized the importance of appreciating every day with your loved ones.
“Don’t count the moments, but make the moments count,” she said.
Longtime Relay for Life volunteer Carol Gorham said the walk launched in 1995 in Flagler County. While the event has been held at Central Park for the last few years, this was the first year food trucks were incorporated into the festivities, said event lead Steve Canfield.
“It really is a work of joy to do this for these people,” Canfield said.
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