MARION -- Hundreds showed up at The Pavilion of the City of Marion Saturday evening representing Williamson, Franklin, Saline and Gallatin cancer survivors and participated in the American Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life.
In addition to survivors, their number included those still fighting one of the 250 different forms of the dreaded disease, as well as their caregivers and others who showed up to help raise funds to support those on the front-line of research seeking a cure for the disease.
Beth Harness of Carterville was chair of this year's Relay For Life and was pleased with the turnout.
"We had over 150 cancer survivors sign up for our pre-relay reception meal and it looks like we'll have over 200 people march in the survivors' lap, which always opens our relay."
Harness said that the past few years they've combined the cancer survivors' reception with the relay itself rather than have two separate events as was the case in previous years.
"Having the relay here at The Pavilion has worked out great too because we don't have to worry about weather cancellations and that was always an issue when we held them outdoors," Harness said.
Amy Taylor of Herrin was a volunteer helping guide survivor lap participants to the correct staging area.
She said she got involved in honor of her father.
"My dad, Steve Creemens, is battling prostate cancer and I'm helping out to honor him."
Mary Beth Livesay of Marion is a 12-year survivor of breast cancer who attended, but a bad foot prevented her from walking the survivors' lap.
"That's OK, I'm still here because I want to help find a cure," she said.
Chuck Robertson marched arm-in-arm with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Ashlyn, in the survivors' and caregivers' lap at the relay, which helped kick off this year's event.
The Marion man is in a fight for his life against pancreatic cancer. He shared that he was diagnosed the day before his 60th birthday this past October, and is receiving treatments at the Cancer Institute of Southern Illinois in Carterville.
Chuck praised family members for their love and support throughout the ordeal.
"I've got three daughters and besides Ashlyn here, I have twin girls, Jessica and Lindsey. One lives in New York and one lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan."
One phase of his monthslong fight to rid his body of the disease is nearly over, "I get my last chemo treatment next week and my older daughter, Jessica, is flying in for the occasion when I get to ring the bell," Robertson said.
He added that he's working hard at getting stronger because "Ashlyn is getting married October 13th and I plan on walking her down the aisle."