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Ford County raises $82,200 for American Cancer Society

GIBSON CITY — The annual Ford County Relay for Life was held under clear skies at Gibson City’s North Park after a brief rain shower late Saturday afternoon.

Nineteen fund-raising teams were participating with an average of 10-15 members per team according to Amanda German, staff partner with the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) office in Champaign.

German said the Sibley Burr Oak Tractor Team was the largest team with over 50 members. That team and several others have fund-raising goals of $10,000 or more.
She also thanked the nearly 30 local business sponsors helping with various aspects of Saturday evening’s event.

German estimated the crowd gathered at the North Park to be about 500 persons for the food, activities, and ceremonies preceding the walk.

German said the ACS set this year’s goal at $80,000, but the local committee raised the goal to $90,000.  {courtesy of News-Gazzette}

Organizers announced after Saturday night, the county’s total raised was $82,200. There are three more fundraising events through August to count toward this year’s goal, according to long-time committee member Chic Meredith of Gibson City.

During the opening ceremonies, local chairman Mike Tongate of Roberts welcomed participants and supporters. Local development chairman Kristi Reynolds of Gibson City explained the sunset-to-sunrise timing of each year’s walk reflects the emotions of cancer patients that can range from darkness to hope.

“We cannot stop or give up, just as the cancer patient cannot stop or give up,” Reynolds said of the fund-raising efforts.

The Rev. Milton Cruz of Paxton’s Church of Christ gave the invocation. The colors were presented by members of the Paxton Fire Department, and GCMS middle school student Taylor Engel sang the national anthem.

Author Mike Stalter was the featured speaker. He was a cancer caregiver throughout his wife’s 21-year battle with breast cancer and has written of his experience in the book “Still Have Faith.”

A new addition to the park site were the metal purple ribbon markers which lined the circular driveway and highlighted the survivor’s walk. The ribbons were made and donated by the Gibson City plant of Alamo Group.

The teams circled the four-block area around the park until 6 a.m., with the path lined with personalized luminarias which were lighted during a 9 p.m. ceremony.

Those wishing to contribute to this year’s goal can send donations to ACS in Champaign (earmarked for Ford County Relay for Life) or any committee member, including Becky Grohler at Farmers Merchant Bank in Paxton or Chic Meredith at Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City.