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Corning joins fight against cancer
Having fought and beat breast cancer not just once, but twice, JoAnn Hall of Corning, was thrilled to be taking part in the city's first Relay for Life event.
"I am a 13 year survivor of cancer," she says with a huge smile. That was the first time she got cancer. Three years later she was hit with the disease a second time.
"So actually I'm also a 10 year survivor," Hall said on Saturday as she and dozens more people gathered to take the first lap around Corning High School's track for the 24-hour cancer fighting, fundraising cause. And fight they did, in the form of walking of course, raising funds in excess of $23,000.
The American Cancer Society affair takes place all across the nation as people team-up to take turns walking around a track for a 24-hour period, in an effort to raise funds that go to the society and its work to stop the deadly disease.
After Corning High School Principal Charlie Troughton, serving as master of ceremonies, sang the National Anthem at 10 a.m., the event's Chairwoman Rae Houston said, "We are all here for the same reason, to kick cancer's butt."
She called the event "Corning's finest hour."
"We are here because those who have lost their battle with cancer will not be forgotten," said Sonja Akers, event co-chair.
As cancer survivors gathered and made the first lap of many around the school's track, friends, family and supporters ringed the oval path and sang out words of love and encouragement.
Throughout the day, as members from 18 teams took turns making the walk, others enjoyed games, food, music and other festivities.
Evening drawing nigh and darkness descending, it was time to prepare for the Luminary Ceremony.
"It was beautiful," said Akers. "Bagpipes playing in the distance came down onto the field, the luminaries were lit and a wonderful woman gave her testimony."
Akers was speaking of Los Molinos resident Tina Spessard who has stood along side and supported her husband who has been fighting brain cancer for five years.
"As the bagpipes played Amazing Grace, laps were made around the track in honor and remembrance of those we have lost to cancer," Akers said.
Another survivor to share his story was Kirollos "Cookie" Gendi, a young man who learned he had bone cancer at the age of 9-years-old.
"When my parents learned the diagnosis they were devastated," he said.
After months of treatments, including several blood transfusions, and a bone implant to his leg, Gendi said he is very grateful to be alive today.
"I can't do contact sports, but I can take part in Relay for Life and that is what is important to me," he said.
Akers stated she can't begin to express how thankful she is for the support the event received from the community.
"This has been spectacular," she said.
Jerry Crow, representative for Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, presented State Assembly certificates of recognition to the people responsible for organizing the event, including Houston, Akers, Shelly Gregoire and DeeDee Pendergraft.
The four top money earning teams were Rolling Hills Casino Krew, $5,000; Relay for Landon team, $3,800; Corning High School's Cards for a Cure, $3,700; and Fountain of Health team, $3,500.
Akers said they definitely plan on having the event again next year and hopes to double the number of teams that took part this first time around.
"I have great hopes for the future of this event," she stated.
For more information on Corning's Relay for Life call Akers at 736-1702.