Punxsy’s Relay for Life is Saturday

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Punxsy will not only celebrate life through this year’s event, but also through art.

For the first time ever, Lilly Oncology’s art display, “Oncology on Canvas,” will be on display during Punxsy’s annual Relay For Life, set for this Saturday in Barclay Square.

According to Jennifer Pavlak, who is co-chairing this year’s event with Robyn Shaffer, Lilly will set up 25 canvases and will have the top three pictures on display Saturday.

According to Lilly’s Web site, “There are nearly 12 million cancer survivors alive today in the U.S. alone who have heard the words, ‘You have cancer.’

“Helping patients and those who love and care for them cope with the emotional side of the disease was the motivation behind Lilly’s creation, in 2004, of the ‘Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey Art Competition and Exhibition.’”

Pavlak said the art has been on display at various hospitals throughout the area, but never at a Relay event.

Shaffer said the Family Fight team coordinated the art display.

Relay for Life celebrates life for the many survivors of cancer and promotes research to find a cure, Pavlak said. As of last week, Relay teams had raised $58,493, which is short of its goal of $86,000.

Last year, the Punxsy Relay achieved its goal — $81,570 — at 5 p.m.

Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten; that those who face cancer will be supported; and that one day, cancer will be eliminated, Shaffer said.

“The Punxsy Relay has had eight very successful years, and all of them at Barclay Square,” Pavlak said. The Groundhog Festival Committee also leaves its canopy over the bandstand for use.

This year’s theme is “Hawaiian Re-lei For Life.”

First established in the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Wash., colorectal surgeon, founded Relay to enhance the income of his local ACS office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed: Running marathons.

According to the Relay organizations, in May 1985, Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him.

He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Klatt’s friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course, ACS said.

Shaffer said currently there are 27 teams and 67 survivors that have committed to attending the event.

Pavlak said the Relay is also good for those who are battling cancer, as it is one large support group.

“You can’t really appreciate what the Relay is all about until you attend it,” Shaffer said.


It’s not too late to enter a team or volunteer to help at this year’s Relay for Life, scheduled for Saturday in Barclay Square. Set-up is at 9 a.m. Saturday, with breakfast from Grace Gigglers.

• DJ Al Lemmon, Digital Thunder DJ Services, will provide music, announcements, entertainment, games and fun throughout the event.

• The annual survivors’ ceremony will be held at 7 p.m., with the Knights of Columbus and Masons raising swords to salute survivors as they are escorted by Punxsutawney Borough Police officers and Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police troopers.

Dr. Jose Silva, oncology physician from Medical Center Clinic at Punxsy Area Hospital, will read the survivors names as they pass through honor guard.

• The Luminaria Ceremony, which honors those who have been touched by cancer or have been lost to the disease, will be held after dark.

Luminaria may be purchased in advance Friday inside Fezell’s County Market.

• A special dinner for survivors will be held at 6 p.m.

• There will be food, auctions and various raffles throughout the day.

For more information, contact Jennifer Pavlak at 952-5854 or Robyn Shaffer at 715-2829, or e-mail punxsyrelayforlife@yahoo.com.