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Ennis Daily News

Survivor? Been there

Survivor Chair shares passion, inspiration for Relay
Relay for Life of Ennis is all about family, community and teamwork.
That’s clear from talking to committee member Donna Dickerson, who’s been involved with the local American Cancer Society fundraiser since it began four years ago. But it’s also obvious she loves the sheer thrill of the overnight walkathon and camping event that takes place annually at the EJHS stadium.
“Working together to raise money for a good cause and having fun, too, brings friends and co-workers together in a different way,” Dickerson said.
For her, it’s a family affair as well.
“My husband and family have been a great support from day one,” she said. “The first year my three week old granddaughter was at the track with her parents and brothers, and my youngest son Cody was disc jockey all night the first two years. It was great!”
A 23-year thyroid cancer survivor, Dickerson has a lot to be excited about and thankful for, but in her work as Survivor Chair she’s not just inspired by her own battle.
“I have lost a grandfather, grandmother, brother-in-law and several friends to cancer,” she said, adding that when asked to join the committee she knew she wanted to do what she could to help.
She’s done that, and more. Assisted by co-chairs Amy Anderson and Karen Waedekin, Dickerson is committed to providing an optimum relay experience for cancer survivors.
“Each year we have learned and grown together,” Dickerson said. “Ideas from team and committee members and from the community have enhanced what we do each year and the numbers (of participants) really show that. I am always open for suggestions to make the survivor portion better.”
The survivor segment of the relay, which traditionally opens the evening, is also one of the most meaningful.
“The survivors are so special to me, and the opening lap is very emotional for me,” Dickerson said. “I see such an age span and varied life experiences in those who participate and so much love when the families join the survivor participants on the track. We are there to share our victory and our hope with others who may be newly diagnosed, or even with those who in the future may be diagnosed and will remember all of us who walked. Between us, we have hundreds of years of survival. Each year I would like to see the number of survivor participants grow and have more of them join in on teams and committees. Their experiences can only enhance what we have started.” Dickerson asks survivors of cancer who have not yet signed up to walk, to contact her to become part of Relay’s big night, set for April 25 at 6 p.m.
“I urge anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer to join us at the track,” she said. “Complete the form the Ennis Daily News publishes and return to the address listed. Even if you can stay only for a short while, you are very welcome and we will make every effort to make you a part of our very special family.”
Of her own dedication to the cause, Dickerson said she’s in for the long haul.
“Every year I wonder if I am too old for this,” she laughed. “But it is so satisfying to see the sun come up and know that in some small way I have made a difference.”

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Posted by on Mar 26 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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