ENID, Okla. — Everybody knows at least one person who has been diagnosed with cancer, Relay for Life organizers said.
Purple, yellow and white balloons, shirts and decor covered the Garfield County Court House lawn Friday, June 3, 2022, during the 25th annual Relay for Life. The event occurred in conjunction with Main Street Enid’s June First Friday.
Participants enjoyed live music, food, games and a tribute ceremony through the evening, before walking in the short relay around the block.
Funds raised during the 2022 Relay for Life well exceeded the $10,000 goal, topping $16,000.
Those funds will go toward American Cancer Society’s attempts to research the long-debilitating disease, as well as Garfield County’s Relay for Life group to help patients with meals, rides to chemotherapy appointments and other support services.
Minka Betchen has been involved with Relay for Life since 1997. She worked as a nurse for Dr. Francisco Dexeus, an oncology doctor formerly practicing in Enid.
“We love having this celebration for them,” Betchen said. “We celebrate the survivors and honor those that have lost their battle to cancer. It’s a cruel disease, but there is so much treatment out there for it now. We had a really big breakthrough when immunotherapy started. It has really prolonged lives.”
Debbie Unruh has been involved with Relay for Life for 25 years as well. She worked for Dexeus as well. Unruh’s mother-in-law passed away from ovarian cancer, and her sister, Cherie Ward, is fighting lung cancer with brain metastases.
“I want to help all I can,” Unruh said. “My favorite part of Relay for Life is right here, the celebration. It’s a lot of work, but it means a lot to patients that have battled cancer.”
Ward was at Relay for Life with her caregiver, Ella Parkridge, her two daughters, sister and grandchildren. She was diagnosed in October 2021.
“I’m just glad that people come out,” Ward said.
Parkridge wore her purple “Survivor” shirt while accompanying Ward and is an endometrial ovarian cancer survivor. She has been in remission for 17 years.