By ESTHER MCCOY
CADIZ - Touching and thankful moments were part of the Relay for Life of Harrison County held Friday evening and throughout the night at its new location of Sally Buffalo Park.
SPECIAL WALK — The Relay for Life of Harrison County started Friday evening with a cancer survivors’ walk for the “Heroes of Hope.” Taking a stroll on the track marked off at Sally Buffalo Park were front, in wheelchair, Wilma Matusik, cancer survivor; and back, her daughter, Linda Greenwood; son, Jeff; and Jackie Rocchi, Harrison Relay for Life Ambassador, who is still under care for pancreatic cancer. -- Esther McCoy
The cancer survivors' walk that started the event saw sisters, Lori Doane and Holly Willis, walking tearfully but with hands clasped in a tight bond. Doane, a breast cancer survivor and fundraising chairman for the relay, is now helping her younger sister go through the same situation as she encountered at the same age.
Coming in at the end of the walk was Jackie Rocchi of Cadiz, named the Harrison County Relay for Life ambassador. She was walking with friends, Wilma Matusik, a cancer survivor, and her son, Jeff Matusik, and daughter, Linda Greenwood.
A special ceremony was held for Rocchi at the luminaria ceremony, where her family joined her in the first lap of the commemorative walk. Her friend, Tom Myers; sons and wives, Jim and Anisa, and John and Robin; granddaughters, Caitlyn and Taya; and sister and family, JoAnne and Scott Hornby, were there for support.
Rocchi learned she had a cancerous tumor on her pancreas on April 27, 2012. "I can't say enough great things about the Teramana Cancer Center and the Allegheny Hospital," she said of her previous and continuing care.
"I worked as a ward clerk at the Harrison Community Hospital for at least two days a week throughout all my treatment and am now back to full time," she said.
Rocchi has remained active with the Gable Memorial Association, where she serves as secretary as well.
"The prayers and support of family and friends have brought me through. I am so grateful for every day and its beauty. I received a purple petunia at the relay and went out immediately to plant it," she said.
Robert Stevens of Cadiz, a 40-year cancer survivor, said the 1973 surgery he received for a tumor on the thyroid successfully removed the tumor and no further treatment was needed. He has walked in every relay that has been held in the county since that time and is a track sponsor to the event each year.
Jody Pizzino of Scio is an 11-year survivor of breast cancer. She does the walk each year in appreciation for all that research has done to conquer the disease.
The Cadiz American Legion Post 34 conducted flag-raising ceremonies during the weekend event, and the Rev. Mark Smith of the Scott United Methodist Church gave the invocation. Abby Dodds, Harrison Central senior, sang the national anthem and other songs.
Members of the Harrison County Farm Bureau provided barbecued chicken for a dinner for survivors and their caregivers. Bureau members also sold chicken dinners to the public and donated the money to the relay.
"We want to give our share to the community," Michele Specht, Harrison County Farm Bureau coordinator, said.
Teams taking part in the relay were Angels of Hope, Cadiz Presbyterian Church Lil Angels, Circle of Friends, Divine Inspiration, Grandma's Honeys, Helping Hands, Huskies for Health, Life Savers, North Starts, Team Gables, Funky Monkeys and a committee team.
Serving on the committee along with Rocchi and Madzia were Ronna Orr, youth; Doane and Amy Morrison, fundraising; Patti Sabo, survivors; and Nancy Stephenson, silent auction. Bethani Barsch is the ACS staff partner.