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Relay of remembrance

A walk with friends helps the fight, and the research

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Sarah Wright, of Fort Dodge, carries her son, Jacob McElroy, 3, during the survivors lap at the annual Webster County Relay For Life on the City Square. McElroy will be a three-year survivor in September.

For most of those who made the trip around the City Square during the Webster County Relay For Life Survivor’s Walk Saturday morning, it was a time of celebration and way to raise money to support research, education and support services through the American Cancer Society.

For others, the event was a time of reflection and grief as they remembered someone who lost their fight against cancer.

Mary Riley, of Sun City, Arizona, was writing a name and date on a luminary as she held a yellow rose in her hand.

“Luanne Hanson,” it read. “May 10.”

“That’s my daughter who just lost her battle last month,” Riley said. “Thus the Team Lucy shirts.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mary Riley, of Sun City, Arizona, prepares a luminary Saturday for her daughter, Luanne Hanson, who lost her fight with cancer on May 10.

Riley reflected on her memories.

“We all took a trip to Paris in 2014,” she said. “That was great.”

Hanson fought a two-year battle. Riley will carry on and continue to support the event.

“We do what we can,” she said.

Jacob McElroy, 3, of Fort Dodge, may have been the youngest survivor on hand. He hold his rose as his mom, Sarah Wright, carried him around the lap.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Jesse Lewis, of Fort Dodge, holds his survivor’s rose Saturday mornin at the Webster County Relay for Life on the City Square.

In September, he will be a three-year survivor.

When he was just 6 weeks old, he was diagnosed with a tumor in his abdomen that was attached to his spine.

“It was devastating,” Wright said. “We got the news, then we put all our energy and time into fighting.”

Her son has endured six rounds of chemotherapy, a tumor resectioning and several other surgeries.

He’s doing better than well.

“He’s doing great,” she said. “We’re getting ready to start 3-year-old preschool. We’re down to yearly checkups with the oncologist. Every therapy he’s had he’s graduated. We’re honestly astonished with how resilient he’s been.”

The family had a lot of support. Family, friends and her coworkers at UnityPoint Clinic.

“My co-workers were a very large part of my support,” she said.

It’s important to continue to support the American Cancer Society’s research, education and support efforts through the Relay For Life events, she said.

“Even if it hasn’t affected you directly,” she said, “it’s affected someone you know.”

Jesse Lewis, of Fort Dodge, is a six-year survivor of both prostate cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

He appreciates the comradery of the event.

“It’s the support and that they’re all fighting,” he said. “We’re all family.”