Cancer survivor: ‘I want to see you be brave’


The team “Picture a World Without Cancer” is shown at the Relay for Life held at the Highland County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro over the weekend.

Jeff Lyle of Good News Gathering leads a prayer during the opening ceremonies of the Relay for Life event Friday evening.

The Hillsboro High School Choir, led by director David White, performed during opening ceremonies of Relay for Life on Friday.

Cancer survivor Kim Abbott addresses the participants Friday evening during opening ceremonies at the Relay for Life event.

Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings offers welcoming remarks Friday during opening ceremonies at the Relay for Life event.

Cancer survivor William Burton, 92, said he has been winning the battle with skin cancer for 30 years.

Cindy Wilson, one of the leaders of the event along with Cheryl Magee, addresses participants at the Relay for Life, calling them “phenomenal.”

Twenty-five teams dodged storms Friday evening after gathering at the Highland County Fairgrounds for the annual Relay for Life that was scheduled to run through Saturday morning, with a goal of raising $86,000.

Event leader Cindy Wilson said Monday that the Relay for Life team was “so very excited” and “so proud” of what the community accomplished over the weekend. As of Monday, $90,000 had been raised. Wilson added that more funds were still coming.

“Every time I think about what the people of Hillsboro did, it just blows me away,” Wilson said.

This year’s Relay for Life began with a prayer led by Jeff Lyle of Good News Gathering. Following a performance by the Hillsboro High School Choir, cancer survivor Kim Abbott took the stage to address participants.

Abbott talked about “the things cancer can do,” a bookend to the last time she spoke about cancer and focused on the things cancer cannot do.

She said cancer is powerful enough to make a person live in constant gratitude, to reveal who real friends are, to help ignore the fear of failure, to increase faith, to endorse healthy boundaries, and to provide the courage to speak the truth even with a shaky voice.

“I want to see you be brave,” she concluded.

Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings offered welcoming remarks, and referred to Abbott’s testimonial as “powerful.”

One of the more notable people at the event was 92-year-old William Burton, who said he has been winning the fight against skin cancer for 30 years.

This year’s relay also marked the event’s 30th anniversary. The celebration featured a 1980s theme.

The teams that won the banners were Picture a World Without Cancer, Holtfield (PacMan one), and Strike Out.

Wilson and fellow event leader Cheryl Magee said the people who participated this year were “phenomenal.”

She added that the rainy weather did not deter the relay’s particpants, saying that the event eventually moved inside one of the buildings at the fairgrounds. Wilson added that the event “went all night,” and included games such as Trivial Pursuit and Simon Says.

She said, “We just did all kinds of crazy things” to stay awake all night.

Wilson added that relay participants feel it is important to continue all 18 hours because “when (cancer survivors) go through what they go through, they can’t give up.”

She added that funds will continue to be raised through Aug. 31. To learn more, or to donate, visit, or search Highland County Relay for Life on Facebook. Wilson added that both the website and the Facebook page will be updated with relay results and photos.

“Anybody out there who would like to donate to help us reach $100,000,” Wilson said, can contact her at 937-763-0637. They can also contact Melinda Daniels, with the American Cancer Society, at 865-323-0588.

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