By David Sharp
The Knox County community celebrated the many victories over cancer, and honored many individual battles with over 150 yards of two deep luminaries stretched over the streets of Edina.
The June 6-7 Relay for Life of Knox County featured great local entertainment, and served as a stark reminder of just how hard the dread disease his hit this community over the years.
Windy but dry weather conditions helped out Relay organizers. The Jefferson City area Relay had to be postponed due to heavy rains. Temperature conditions for the Knox County Relay were near ideal.
Eight Relay teams were the center pieces of the event. Final fund raising totals were not available at press time. Relay co-chairs Nena Palmer and Betty Couch reported over $26,000 and counting had been collected when the Relay began with opening ceremonies at 6PM.
Names of approximately 75 cancer survivors were read. The purple shirted survivors were among the approximate 400 in attendance according to Edina City Police estimates. The total represents about 10% of the total population of Knox County.
It is very difficult to find anyone in this community that has not been touched in some way by cancer. As the names of survivors, and those lost to cancer were read off during the luminary ceremony the full impact could be felt.
Long time area residents recognized prominent business and professional people. Those who stayed home to raise families along with men and women who made their living with their hands were struck down equally.
Folks in their 20’s to senior citizens over age 80 were represented on both ends of the spectrum.
A total of 1166 luminaries were sold for $5 each. The 2008 Relay theme was “Hunting For A Cure”. Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back. One of the many Knox County cancer survivors was former MoDot area supervisor Ray Prebe. Mr. Prebe has been cancer free for eight years.
Ray Prebe credited early detection of cancer through a PSA test for the good outcome. “I kept up my PSA every year,” said 84 year young Ray Prebe. “One year it was up. My doctor advised me to get a biopsy to see if something was going on, and it was cancer.”
“We set up some treatments and I took some chemo (therapy), said Prebe. “They took it out in about six months. That was going on nine years ago and so far I have been cancer free.”
The long time Knox County farmer stated the value of early detection. “If you can get it caught before it gets out into your body, the chances are pretty good that you can be cured. I didn’t have any symptoms any more than I ever had. I think it is very important that any man when he gets at least 50 (years of age) have a PSA every year.”
“I was operated on when I was 75 (years of age),” said Mr. Prebe. “I opted to have it done and I haven’t regretted it. Ray and Vi Prebe have been on both sides of the cancer struggle. The Prebes have 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Their son John Prebe died in 2008 of cancer, leaving three children, two grandchildren and wife Sheree Prebe along with a large group of friends. Isaah Prebe was one of many candle lighters during the 9PM
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“We had a perfect evening for our Relay,” said 25 year plus veteran cancer fighter Betty Couch of Edina. “The weather was a gift from God. I was wishing and praying for this. We have had a lot of preparations by a lot of people.”
The Relay For Life is a year round endeavor with a golf tournament and many other associated activities. “I think this year’s Relay will be successful,” said Betty Couch. “We might not get as much money as we set our goal for, but we are coming along.”
The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Knox County had a stated goal of $35,000. The goal would represent about $8.75 for every current county resident.
“We have a follow up meeting in June, and then have a golf tournament in July,” said Betty Couch. “In September, we will start again. I always felt it was never too late to join. We would take a team that showed up tonight and said they wanted to help.”
“The survivors are the ones we are honoring,” said event co-chair Betty Couch. “I heard one person who has been a 47 year survivor. Some of them have survived 18 or 20 years. We have so many people that are two or three year survivors, or who have cancer now.”
“I feel like our community has been hit especially hard. It is everywhere,” said Couch of the area cancer rate. “The only saving grace is research and modern technology. They are able to do something for cancer patients now.”
“It used to be pretty much that if you got cancer you weren’t going to survive. We like to honor the survivors, and make sure they are the main focus of the Relay,” said Betty Couch.
At least one cancer survivor reported receiving treatment on June 4, less than 72 hours before the opening ceremony.
Those in attendance were treated to performances by bands and vocal musicians. The Isaac Clown Troupe entertained.
There was a very tasty array of food available. Entrees included hot dogs, burgers, ham and beans along with pork sandwiches.
The Citizens’ Bank team featured a very popular banana split offering.
The Knox County Nursing Home team won the ever popular Lip Synch contest. The Money Changers (Citizen’s Bank of Edina) was second and C Troop took third place.
“The easiest part of the Relay For Life is being the Co-Chair because we have a wonderful group of people on our committee,” said Nena Palmer. “They take care of everything.”
Virginia Carpenter and Carol Hayes were the Entertainment Chairs. Janis McGinnis and Carol Lee Bishop serve as Treasurers. Linda Banks is the Publicity Chairman. Jeanne Mitchell, Karen Hall and Clarissa Brenizer are the Survivor Chairs. Barb Hunziker, Wanda Gragg and Sandy Devlin are the Luminaria Chairs. Charley Hamlin is the Logistics Chair.
“They all do a tremendous amount of work,” said Nena Palmer. “We try not to overwork anyone. If there is a cancer survivor, or someone we are missing please contact myself or Betty Couch.
“I want to thank everyone who sponsored the Relay. They are listed on the back of our T-Shirts. We raised over $7000 with our sponsorships.”
Mrs. Palmer also thanked the Edina Sentinel for their Relay coverage.