Highland News Leader

Highland community bands together for annual Relay for Life celebration event

Bids fly for homemade pie at charity auction in Highland

Virgil Straeter sings The Auctioneer by Leroy Van Dyke. Straeter is accompanied by Kevin Heim, who provided music during the "Paint the Town Purple" at the Peanut Butter & Jam Festival on Friday, June 16. Straeter was the auctioneer during the ann
Up Next
Virgil Straeter sings The Auctioneer by Leroy Van Dyke. Straeter is accompanied by Kevin Heim, who provided music during the "Paint the Town Purple" at the Peanut Butter & Jam Festival on Friday, June 16. Straeter was the auctioneer during the ann

Highland’s 15th Relay for Life Celebration Night held July 20 was a huge success,

Approximately 175 survivors, caregivers, and others attended to celebrate life and the fight against cancer. This year’s event was held at Hope United Methodist Church with a Hawaiian theme. Upon arrival, each survivor received a purple T-shirt and a survivor pin, and was presented a lei to carry out the theme.

The evening began with dinner for survivors, their caregivers and other guests. Dinner was catered and served by HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. Following dinner, the opening ceremony kicked off with Keith Henss serving as emcee.

After Henss’ opening remarks, representatives of the American Legion Post 439 and Highland VFW Post 5694 provided the presentation of colors and Erin Hoepfner sang the National Anthem. Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis addressed the crowd, followed by introduction of the Relay leadership team: Eric Ashcraft, Kristen Barr, Keith and Lisa Henss, Joy Krouper, Emily McDowell, Carlos Munguia, Karen Nave, Paula Redman, and Kathy Walker.

Sponsors of this year’s Relay were recognized and included:

  • Regional Sponsors: Scott Credit Union, TheBANK of Edwardsville, and Belleville News Democrat;’
  • Presenting Sponsor: Eaton’s B-Line;
  • Platinum Sponsor: HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital (also the dinner sponsor);
  • Gold Sponsor: Ralph and Donna Korte Charitable Foundation;
  • Silver Sponsors: Highland News Leader, Highland Lions Club, The Korte Company, Ladies Auxiliary/Knights of Columbus 1580, and Terra Properties; and
  • Bronze Sponsors: Spengel-Boulanger Funeral Home, Plaza Dental Care, Oberbeck Grain Co., Highland Pediatrics, Highland Rural King, and Bradford National Bank.

The featured speaker for the evening was cancer survivor Traci Luitjohan who shared her amazing and courageous story of survival.

Since being diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma, Luitjohan has faced many challenges which she has met head on. Her fight has not been an easy one, but with proper medical care, perseverance and the support of family and friends, she currently has no active cancer spots.

Survivors attending were recognized by the number of years as a survivor (ranging from less than one year to 40 plus years). Once all were standing, survivors and their caregiver walked the survivor/caregiver lap together.

The Luminaria Ceremony closed out the evening. Lighted luminaria bags honoring survivors and/or remembering those who have lost the battle lined the stage for this inspirational ceremony. Many were decorated with drawings, messages, and pictures of loved ones. Participants sat in silence as the names of those being honored and/or remembered were read.

According to event leadership members, “This year’s Relay for Life Celebration Night was a success. As always, the community came together as one in the fight against cancer. The smiles, laughter, tears, and hugs make it all worthwhile. Thanks to everyone who participated in any way — survivors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers and guests, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital for catering the dinner, and Highland Hope UMC for providing the venue. With the success of Relay every year, we are taking steps to eliminate cancer.”

Funds raised help the American Cancer Society provide free information and support for people facing the disease today, and fund cancer research that will help protect future generations.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Highland Relay may still do so as donations are still being accepted through Saturday, Aug. 31. For more information, or to donate, contact Keith Henss at 618-578-1656 or any of the committee members.

  Comments