Julie Cox posed with family and friends behind a huge banner that read “Charlotte’s Angels” for Friday’s Relay for Life of Northern Fox Valley.
Nearby on a table, there was a photo of Charlotte Blankenship, Cox's grandmother, who died in 2008 of lung cancer. The frame included two other family members, her mother-in-law, Mary Cox, who died last August of colon cancer and her aunt, Wanda Jones, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December. Her beloved aunt is in remission, she said.
Everywhere one turned, throughout Deicke Park in Huntley, there were banners, photos and people wearing white sashes reading “survivor.”
Nearby, Louie and Dolores Theodore sat after walking the first lap. Both are cancer survivors. The couple has been married for 45 years. Louie has been in remission for 26 years. He had liver cancer. Dolores had Hodgkin's lymphoma. She has been in remission for 21 years.
“Thank God,” Louie said. “I thank him every day that we made it.”
The two families were among 222 people who participated in the Relay for Life that began Friday evening and ended this morning. Organizer Tiffany Scerbicke said the relay had 11 more teams than last year.
Master of ceremonies Roy Rankin said everyone walking had been touched by cancer in some way. Relay for Life is a passion for him because it hits close to home — his mother-in-law is a cancer survivor.
“We are all in this fight together. We say when we walk together, we are bigger than cancer,” he said.
Teams, which lighted luminaries Friday night and walked around the track until 6 a.m. this morning, showed their support for family members and friends who've been diagnosed with cancer. Some walked in memory of someone, while others walked side by side with survivors.
Kathie Green thanked the crowd and her team for the support.
“Thank you for all your determination to fight and win this battle,” Green said.
She first was diagnosed with cancer in 1989. Green has beaten cancer again and again. She was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.
“I currently have cancer again, but cancer doesn’t have me,” said Green, who heads the Relay for Life team from Walgreens on Princeton Drive, where she works.
Green did not wear her white survivor sash Friday because she gave it to her mom, Terry Gilbert, who has been to every one of Green’s Relay for Life walks until this year. Gilbert was hospitalized for an illness and was forced to miss it. Green gave her the sash because her mom is her hero, she said.
Every 68 seconds someone dies of cancer somewhere in the United States, Green said. “We need to change that now, not later.”
“My name is Kathie Green and I’m so glad you are here. I’m honored you are here,” she said. “Let’s start walking and make a difference.”