Streetsboro -- Carol Ranta, a former longtime Streetsboro resident who is in her 15th year as Relay For Life captain of Carol's Crew, looks forward to the annual event for many reasons.
"I love to see how excited my grandchildren are to attend," she said. "I love meeting new friends and seeing the people that I only see at Relay For Life. I like to see the smiles on everyone's faces, no matter what the weather."
Northern Portage Relay For Life will be June 6 from 5 p.m. to June 7 at noon at Veterans Stadium, 109 W. Pioneer Trail, Aurora. The event, which has lasted 24 hours in the past, was changed to about 18 hours this year "to change things up a bit," according to co-chairperson Kevin Nietert.
She said she's enthused to be part of the event.
"If the event takes people's minds off what they have gone through or are going through for only a few hours, then we have done our job," she said. "Relay brings families together. I walk with my children and now my grandchildren, with my dad, my sisters and my friends. My granddaughter is 6, and she has raised over $200 herself this year. To see how proud she is and the excitement she has for Relay means I'm doing something right."
Northern Portage Relay For Life had raised $28,877 as of May 30, and the Northern Portage Relay For Life's overall goal is to raise $60,200, according to Nietert, who is co-chairperson with Chuck Richardson of Northfield. Nine teams have registered and there are 129 participants so far.
Gates open June 6 at 3 p.m.; the opening ceremony, parade of teams and survivor and caregiver lap will be at 5 p.m.; the luminaria ceremony will be from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m.; soccer tournaments begin at midnight; a pancake breakfast at Harmon Middle School, sponsored by the Aurora Rotary Club, is from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.; Country line dancing with Pearl Pullman is from 10 to 11 a.m.; and the closing ceremony is from 11 a.m. to noon.
Ranta, a caregiver, not a survivor, who moved to Streetsboro when she was married in 1978 and then moved to Ravenna in 2005, said this year's Relay For Life has more meaning for her because last July, her daughter underwent surgery a week after her 27th birthday to have her thyroid removed because of cancer. In January, her husband had to have skin cancer removed from his neck.
"Neither one may be as bad as what other people have, but cancer is cancer," she said. "My goal is that my grandchildren will never have to really know what cancer does to families, that one day with all the hard work and hours that myself and a lot of others put into Relay, cancer stories will not have to be told. Cancer affects a lot of people, and it makes me sad to think of what they are going through. So I work hard every year to raise funds to make Relay fun, to bring people to Relay. We are all after the same results -- to end cancer."
Ranta urges people to volunteer.
"If you have a heart, then becoming a volunteer is easy," he said. "I believe everyone has a special talent. Some can talk to people easier than others; some have ideas to share, while others would rather just help someone else out. I tell people they can do what makes them comfortable. Relay needs all kinds of people to host an event -- those who can plan and those who can help with those plans."
Donations to Relay For Life make a tangible difference in treatment of those with cancer, she added.
"Without our help, some people can't have tests that may save their lives, or a room to stay in while a child or a loved one is going to for treatment or surgery. Raising money can be as easy as filling a 16-ounce water bottle with dimes, which is $100."
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