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Fight cancer with Portage Relay for Life

Event set Saturday in Ravenna

By DIANE SMITH Staff Writer Published: May 19, 2017 4:00 AM
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People from all over Portage County will come together Saturday for the Portage County Relay for Life, which takes place at Portage Community Bank Stadium in Ravenna, behind Ravenna Stadium.

The event, which has taken place at the stadium for nearly 20 years, combined with Aurora's effort to become a countywide event in 2016. It takes place from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Deanna Birch, Gia Polichena and Austin Marsh are the event leads.

"The goal is to raise as much money as we can to fight cancer and to help those who are fighting," she said. The event also has a financial goal of $62,000.

A total of 27 teams and 239 participants have registered, with others expected to sign up the day of the event, Polichena said.

Kent State University also hosted a Relay for Life in April.

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Once an overnight event, activities are planned throughout the day, some fun and some somber, to keep participants motivated to keep walking. They include the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., where about 150 cancer survivors are expected to take part in a victory lap. A catered brunch also will be provided to cancer survivors and a guest.

Other activities include selections from the All City Musical, "James and the Giant Peach," a "Road to Recovery" race, a live auction at 2 p.m. and a luminaria ceremony.

Robert Newman, honorary survivor, and Marsh, honorary caregiver, will address the crowd.

Newman is a college friend of Birch, and fought his battle with cancer when both were young.

"When he was diagnosed at such a young age, he kept a positive attitude and a positive message for everyone else, even though he was the one fighting," Birch said.

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Marsh was a caregiver for his father, George Chabra III, who fought Hodgkins Lymphoma, a battle he lost when Marsh was 16.

"I had to grow up really quick, and realize that life was not something to take for granted," he said.

Polichena, who has been participating in Relay for Life since she was a young child, said she likes the family atmosphere of the Ravenna Relay. This is her last year of being involved in the Ravenna event, and she plans to become involved in the event when she goes away to college next year.

Marsh agreed.

"We're really close knit," he said. "Everyone knows each other and if you don't, you learn."

Those who want to participate in Relay for Life can find information on the organization's website, RelayforLife.org, or contact event coordinator Ayla Zerbe at 330-517-2072.


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