Cancer survivors release balloons following the survivor’s walk Saturday night during the Mower County Relay for Life.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Cancer survivors release balloons following the survivor’s walk Saturday night during the Mower County Relay for Life.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

A stand against cancer

Published 11:03am Monday, July 29, 2013

Relay for Life raises $93K

Austin residents gathered under overcast skies and wrapped themselves in jackets Saturday evening as the 2013 Mower County Relay for Life kicked off at Bandshell Park. Those who had battled the disease themselves — dressed in purple shirts with matching balloons — lined up to start the Survivor’s Lap.

“We’re here today as a community to honor cancer survivors … and fight back against the disease,” said host Chris Kuball of KAAL TV. “By walking this track tonight, with each step we are working together to eliminate this disease.”

So far, this year’s Relay has raised $93,000, according to Mary Hanson, the event’s local finance chair. That’s level with the $93,000 raised last year and more than the $88,000 in 2011. Participants have until Aug. 31 to turn in money, however, so this year’s total is expected to increase.

Jerry Wilkinson was honored with the event’s “Above and Beyond for the Cause” award, commemorating his extensive efforts in support of Relay.

“When my mom found out she had cancer, he went above and beyond to take her to treatments,” said Jerry’s daughter, Stephanie Wilkinson. “He has the biggest heart I know and just wants to help people.”

After accepting his award, Jerry told a crowd of almost 300 people he had tried to do his best for Team Believe, his Relay team, out of respect for his late wife of 33 years.

“I am just totally humbled by this,” Jerry said, crediting the other members of Team Believe for their help. “You don’t do fundraising and run a team with any expectations of being honored for it.”

Sheldon Lukas recalled his first Relay back in 1995.

Dick Buechner walks his great-grandson, Graham Kunert, 1, during the survivor’s walk at the Mower County Relay for Life Saturday night.   Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Dick Buechner walks his great-grandson, Graham Kunert, 1, during the survivor’s walk at the Mower County Relay for Life Saturday night.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“Been to every one since,” he said.

Sheldon and his wife Ruth are both cancer survivors. He overcame the disease when it was removed from his lips and cheeks about 10 years ago, and Ruth had a double mastectomy in 1994. More recently, she was treated for ovarian cancer. A checkup two weeks ago at Mayo Clinic confirmed Ruth is recovering.

“I’ve done real well,” she said.

Dick Buechner, who survived a rare form of leukemia he was diagnosed with in 2011, was one of this year’s Relay ambassadors, along with his great-grandson Graham Kunert. At six months old, Graham was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancerous tumor found in the eye.

 


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