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May 17, 2014

Crowd braves rain to support Relay for Life

Friday’s rains didn’t seem to affect the spirits of those who turned out for the American Cancer Society’s Otsego County Relay for Life.

The event, which was held at Cooperstown Dreams Park, is celebrating its 16th anniversary.

“We have a pretty good showing for the weather,” Helen Gregory, the community executive for the area American Cancer Society. “People in the area have such a passion of finding a cure for cancer, that’s why they do it, that’s why they are here.”

The local chapter is encouraged by a 20 percent decline in cancer deaths that has occurred over the past 16 years, she said. Nationwide, there are 14 million cancer survivors.

There were about 350 people signed up for the event, which is about average, Gregory said.

Despite the weather, she said that the event could be close to achieving its $90,000 goal by the time it is over on Saturday at 7 a.m. It started at 6 p.m. on Friday. The tent that normally holds the survivors dinner was rearranged to make room for the several hundred people who were there for the opening ceremonies. Many of the activities will be held there if needed, Gregory said.

Dozens of survivors and their teams started the evening with a ceremonial lap around the area, despite the rain. One of those was Kathleen Galland-Bennett of Cooperstown, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.

“I’m doing well because of an early diagnosis” and chemotherapy, she said. Her husband, Raymond Bennett, said she’s an example of why it’s important to have regular checkups. The cancer was detected during a routine mammography, he said.

Galland-Bennett said she’s been involved with Relay for Life for many years. There have been many years that it has rained, she said, and while it makes the event different, it doesn’t change her enjoyment of it. She continues the team, Cinderblocks, to honor the memory of her sister, who died nine years ago from breast cancer.

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