On June 13-14, hundreds gathered to walk for cancer at the 14th annual Austintown Relay For Life. The event was held at Austintown Township Park for the first time.
Relay For Life is a worldwide event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The goal is to not only raise funds but cancer awareness and the hope of finding a cure.
A 24-hour community event, the Austintown Relay For Life had teams representing Austintown and Canfield.
Photo by Melissa Moliterno, Town Crier Correspondent
On June 13-14, hundreds gathered for the 14th annual Austintown Relay For Life at the Austintown Township Park. A Relay team was formed in honor of Ken Reel, a history teacher and basketball coach at Canfield who passed away at the age of 67. Pictured are members of Team Reel, in front, Renee Nagy of Canfield, Mason Eaton, 2, of Canfield, and Sabrina Eaton of Canfield.
In back row are Reel's former student Angela Pupino, 18, of Canfield; 24-hour walker Maddy Urig, 16, of Canfield; 24-hour walker Carlie Oddo, 16, of Canfield; 24-hour walker and Reel's former student Gillian Jennings, 16, of Canfield; 24-hour walker Francine Hazy, 15, of Canfield; 24-hour walker Nicole Schmidt, 15, of Canfield; and John Hazy of Canfield.
During the event, there were various activities and fundraisers, including a luminaria ceremony to honor cancer survivors and remember those who lost the battle.
This year, 27 teams participated in Relay For Life and 314 participants signed up. The event raised $80,212.46.
Tri-chair Jenifer Pemberton of North Jackson said they are working to reach their goal of $125,000 over the next couple of months. Pemberton is an Austintown Fitch graduate and has been involved with the event since its beginning years.
This year marks the third time ''Team Reel'' participated. The team formed in 2012 in honor of Kenneth Reel, a former history teacher and coach at Canfield Local Schools whose career spanned 44 years. June 12 marks one year since he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 67.
''This is the way we keep his memory alive,'' said team captain Sabrina Eaton of Canfield.
In addition to coaching girls and boys track, Reel was the eighth grade girls basketball coach since the beginning of the program. A basketball court was recently dedicated in his name at Canfield Village Middle School.
This year, the team got T-shirts made that represented Reel's dedication to basketball with the saying ''Keep calm and shoot for a cure'' on the back. The team had 25 members, and 10 participated as 24-hour walkers.
All 24-hour walkers must walk at least one lap every hour during Relay For Life. Gillian Jennings, 16, of Canfield was one of this year's 24-hour walkers who honored Reel.
A former student of his, Jennings said, ''He is a legend of Canfield and was loved by everyone. It's meaningful to Canfield to raise money not only in honor of him, but for cancer. He touched the lives of others even if they didn't come in direct contact with him.''
This is Jennings third year as a 24-hour walker.