WINTERSVILLE - Brenda Mieczkowski came early and stayed late for the 18th annual Steubenville Area Relay for Life.
But she was still smiling after spending the night and Saturday morning hours at the Robert Kettlewell Stadium near Indian Creek High School.
After all, the Wintersville resident and her Team Cooper received the best decorated campsite award at the conclusion of the 18 hour event that raised $128,532.72.
BUTTERFLY RELEASE — Steubenville residents Janie Donohue, left, and Terri DeChristopher, sisters who are breast cancer survivors, were among those who participated in a butterfly release Saturday morning near the conclusion of the 18th-annual Steubenville Area Relay for Life sponsored by the Jefferson County Unit of the American Cancer Society. The two were part of the J-Birds team at the relay, which raised $128,532.72 and was held at the Robert Kettlewell Memorial Stadium at Indian Creek High School.
Brenda and her daughter Amanda were participating in the Relay for Life in honor of Brenda's parents and her brother-in-law who all died from cancer related-illnesses.
"We have been doing this for six years now and plan on being here in the future. It is for a very serious cause but it is also fun staying here all night. We had a great disc jockey entertain us," Mieczkowski noted.
Her husband, Fred, walked with his family until about midnight and then returned early Saturday morning.
"I am here for my brother Regis. It is heartwarming to see all the people who participated in the walk. And to walk on the track and to see all of the names of people who have died from cancer really gets to me," said Fred.
Kathy McCart, of Toronto, another Team Cooper member, said this year's event was made better by Disc Jockey Anthony Bailey of Movin & Groovin Productions.
"He kept us entertained all night long and made it easier to walk through the night," McCart noted.
Bailey, of Knoxville, said he works at seven different relay for life events every year.
"This is the first time for the Steubenville Area relay. I try to entertain everyone who spends the night here by playing the right music and doing small activities throughout the night. I have found most of the people who stay all night are usually pretty active," observed Bailey.
Larry Standiford participated in his sixth relay Saturday although bad knees kept him from walking overnight.
"But I came back this morning. And I enjoyed Anthony Bailey. His music is good and he sets the right tempo for the walk," Standiford said.
According to Relay Co-Chair Kyle Elder, "I walk in memory of three of my grandparents. They all passed away from cancer. This is a way to give back to the community and to honor them. I know we are going to beat this disease."
The 22-year old Elder was a member of Team Cooper and a first-time co-chair of the relay.
"This is my sixth time to participate in the Relay for Life and I will be back again next year," he promised.
"Karen Lundquist won the overall distance by walking 33 miles. Team Powerball recorded 631 laps, or 155 total team miles. And the Best Educational Message award goes to the Wintersville United Methodist Church," Elder announced at the close of the event.
"Unfortunately," Elder said, "the relay came up short of the $165,000 goal."
"But the deadline for collecting donations is Aug. 30 and we can still get financial support. Remember, every penny counts so don't stop now. I know you may want to go home and get some rest but don't stop working to raise money to find a cure to beat this disease," Elder declared.