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Relay for Life unites us in cancer fight

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Updated: June 18, 2013 7:18AM



This weekend, as our daughter Cheryl, her children and little grandchildren, her brother Mark and Barb and several friends are walking in her honor for breast cancer in Colorado, we will be walking with our daughter Carol and hundreds of others here in Valpo for the Relay for Life to honor cancer survivors and remember those who will forever be in our hearts.

Although a thousand miles separate us, our hearts will be as one, and that’s what cancer walks and fundraisers are all about. Every year the survival rate is greater, and one more step into a complete cure is climbed.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, the track at Thomas Jefferson Middle School will be filled with tears and hugs of joy and sadness for the survivors lap, and at 9 p.m., as the sun disappears, as the luminarias are the only light on the track, as each name is read, there will be few dry eyes and lots of loving arms holding each other close.

It is a very special hour, and serves as a reminder to all of us that the fight against cancer is being won!

Come over to T.J. tomorrow evening and get goose bumps with us!

The Red Ribbon breakfast each year is one of my favorites, not because of the great food served at Old Towne Banquet Center, but because of the reason.

It is to honor the students throughout Porter County who were chosen by the Red Ribbon committee as the winners in the fight against drug use campaign.

Each year, placemats designed by elementary students, posters designed by middle and high school students and a $500 scholarship for the top Red Ribbon essay are chosen and recognized for their excellence.

Anna Brocksmith, teacher at Union Center Elementary School and committee chairperson, said each year it is more difficult to choose winners because of the great talent many youngsters display.

And each school only sends the top three placemats or poster designs, so there are hundreds of youngsters who are included in the fight against drugs through this contest.

Placemats depicted everything from the Seven Dwarfs to vampires, and posters ranged from Lincoln to a Haunted House. The creativity of the students is phenomenal. The essays by high school seniors are often so well written, they could be published.

Washington Township second-grader Sheri Orlando and fifth-grader Julia Tarpley, along with Claire Bailey, in fifth-grade at Liberty Intermediate, and Northview Elementary’s Michael Magnetti, a fourth-grader, were the place mat winners.

The poster winners boasted some mighty fine talent. Dylan Fishburn, a Hebron High School senior, and Emily Jerome, Chesterton Middle School eighth-grader, were greeted with oohs and aahs for their talent.

The highlight of the morning is always hearing the winning essay. But this year there were two. Brocksmith said with more than 30 essays in contention, the committee could not choose one over the other.

Superintendent Rod Gardin had to be especially proud, as both winners are from East Porter County schools. Elizabeth Wood is a senior at Washington Township High School, and Tyler Birmingham will be graduating from Kouts High School.

Elizabeth noted that, at her high school, “yolo” is a word to say to other students and friends, and means, “you only live once,” but she has added another meaning, “you ought to look out” referring to drugs. That’s pretty cool.

Thanks to Shelley and Rick Volk of Great Lakes Labs, both seniors received scholarships. After listening to their readings of their essays, there was no doubt that they were outstanding.

Jackie Sterling noted that this is the 21st year for the Red Ribbon campaign, and sadly she has not seen as much of a slow-down in the use of drugs as she had hoped.

Thank you Jackie and all the volunteers who willing give of their time to try and save the lives of our precious commodity — children. You are my pet persons of the week.

Now I hope you all have a great day because you deserve it. Thanks for reading. Fly your flag.



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