Archive for Thursday, June 6, 2002

De Soto’s noteworthy events had humble starts

June 6, 2002

We note a symmetry to this weekend's major community events.

De Soto High School alumni will gather for the annual all-school reunion. As they do, the alumni will have an opportunity to tour the city of De Soto's renovated City Hall, which was the high school's first home. The old high school represented the optimistic commitment of De Soto's early residents who voted to build the $60,000 school.

The weekend's other big event, the fifth annual De Soto Relay for Life, is also growing from humble beginnings.

The American Cancer Society hit on a winning formula with the Relay for Life. The fund-raiser counts on local leadership to provide much of the organizational skill and energy for each community's event. The basic premise teams collect money and then take part in a nightlong walk symbolizing hope helps ensure a great many people get involved in participating communities.

Since its beginning in De Soto, Debbie Bottoms, John and Julie Riffel, Ed and Janice Wilcox, and the community's one-woman volunteer resource, Jodi Hitchcock, have contributed the time and effort that made the event happen.

But the De Soto effort wouldn't be the success it is if it didn't touch something deeper. With 20 teams signed on to this year's Relay, more than 200 individuals will join in the shared moments of grief, remembrance, victory, support and hope.

The scope of participation points out few of us have escaped the consequences of cancer, and the grim statistics tell us it will continue to devastate individuals, families and communities. According to the American Cancer Society Web site, 43 percent of American men and 38 percent of American women will be stricken with some form of invasive cancer. It is predicted 12,300 Kansans and 1,284,000 Americans will develop cancer this year. Cancer accounts for one in every four deaths in the United States, making it second only to heart disease

On the bright side, 64 percent of those with cancer survive the disease. New drugs and treatments are becoming available to help increase that survival rate.

The De Soto Relay for Life raised $17,000, and this year's goal is $25,000 As important as expensive research is, perhaps the Relay's biggest contribution is an increase in awareness the participating survivors bring to the event. Early detection of cancer from increased awareness has the potential to save more lives than new drugs and treatments.

Some of the dollars raised will go elsewhere, but the true success of the De Soto Relay for Life is that the awareness and support from the event will stay with the community.

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