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Locals unite to battle cancer, kick off relays

Survivors gather for area’s first ACS Relay For Life

April 27, 2017
By BOB COUPLAND , The Town Crier

YOUNGSTOWN - Wearing a T-shirt that read ''One Tough Cookie,'' Hubbard resident Debbie Fay, who is battling breast cancer, walked with other cancer survivors Friday around Youngstown State University's Beeghly Center for the area's first American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

The 2017 relay season kicked off Friday as YSU hosted a nine-hour relay with 13 teams and 100 participants. The theme was ''Happy Birthday'' with many walkers wearing birthday hats with signs and shirts with the American Cancer Society's message of ''A World with more Birthdays.''

Ben Dalrymple, YSU relay event leader, said last year there was little participation at the overnight event so this year, the relay pushed to include more day hours to attract more teams.

He said there were sororities, fraternities, community and YSU staff teams, and the goal was to raise $15,000.

Hubbard native Vicki Thompson of Poland created the ''Team Tough Cookie" shirts for Fay, which had 30 members.

''We have been friends for 36 years. I wanted to put the team together in her honor. She is getting chemotherapy and doing well. All our shirts say ''Team Tough Cookie'' but Debbie's says 'One Tough Cookie' with 'fighter' on the back,'' Thompson said.

Thompson said Debbie and her husband John Fay wanted to participate at YSU's relay where their son, Robert, is a freshman, and where the family attends sporting events.

''She is a wonderful person inside and out with the daily struggles she has had. She means the world to me,'' said Hubbard resident and team member Chris Patterson.

Hubbard resident Tina Gray, Debbie Fay's mother, said it means so much to the family to have so much love and support.

''It is unbelievable. There are so many great people here helping,'' Gray said.

Fay said she was overwhelmed by all the support.

''I feel the love and the support. When you are down and having a tough day you have to rally because everyone is waiting to cheer you on. They lift me up and celebrate with me,'' she said.

Warren resident Maxine McGaughy, a 13-year cancer survivor, said she wanted to show others they can win over cancer.

''I want to show them they can make it through cancer,'' McCaughy said.

She also will be at the Niles Relay For Life Friday at the Niles Wellness Center, where she will be on ''Team Angels,'' which was started for her.

Eric Baker, American Cancer Society community manager, said in recent years some relays have combined to make a bigger event.

''We ask each community what they want to do. The relay leadership and teams tell us if they want a 24-hour event or a shorter one. Some tell us 24 hours is way too long for them. It is harder to get enough people to cover all the hours. There are now different styles of relays and new effective approaches starting for each relay,'' Baker said.

During the YSU relay were activities such as balloon popping, cornhole and dodgeball as well as a luminary ceremony.

The Youngstown Relay For Life raised $10,133 for ACS.

Baker said the relay funds minus expenses totaled $9,500.



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