Heat, hope, healing greet Saturday’s Relay for Life of Dallas County

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Saturday’s high heat and humidity might have kept some people at home and away from this year’s Relay for Life of Dallas County, but for the 70-some attendees who braved the temperatures, the message of hope, healing and memory was as inspiring as ever.

The annual event began at 4 p.m. at the Perry High School’s Dewey Field, with a welcome by organizers Gary and Tracy Iles, an invocation by the Rev. Jeremy Winter of the Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Perry and an uplifting speech by this year’s honorary cancer survivor, Clark Wicks, superintendent of the Perry Community School District.

“Your value is determined by what you make of yourself,” Wicks said, quoting a nugget of wisdom his mother gave to him when he graduated from Luther College. To illustrate, he said an iron bar is worth $1, but if it is turned into horseshoes, they are worth $4, as screwdrivers $11 and turned into needles $35.

“Money doesn’t buy happiness, but gratitude will,” said Wicks, who described his six months of chemotherapy treatment and the support he received from his wife, Deb Wicks.

He said he was helped by advice from Kirk VanKirk of Perry, a fellow cancer survivor, who shared what he learned from Chuck Offenburger of Cooper, a journalist and fellow survivor: “make sure you get up every morning, take a shower and have a purpose for the day.”

Wicks also spoke on the Relay for Life theme: Celebrate. Remember. Fight back.

The evening’s events included a survivor and community dinner, musical entertainment, activities involving themed laps, contests, silent auctions and other activities.

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the nationwide Relay for Life raises about $5 billion annually for cancer research.

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