Despite the scorching heat Friday, hundreds came out to the Lewis County Fairgrounds for the Lewis County Relay for Life. Last year, over $100,000 was raised and hopes were high to eclipse that effort this year.
But when Relay for Life started in Lewis County in 1998, it was a different story. Only ten teams showed up in the 30 degree weather. And it was a different story for many of the participants too.
When Joyce Pellam made her first trek around the Lewis County Fairgrounds loop in 1998, the county's first year of Relay for Life, she had no idea that just a few years later, she would be one of the people everyone was walking for.
"You never think you're going to be the one to get cancer", said Phallen. "You just think you're helping out, I'm not going to be a survivor."
Pellam was diagnosed once in 2004 and once in 2009 with breast cancer. Throughout her fight and as a survivor, Relay took on a whole new meaning. A meaning her friend and cancer survivor Catherine Barnes understood when she was at the first relay in 1998.
"People are scared and frightened," said Barnes who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1994. "I know how I felt when the doctor said it's likely cancer."
Barnes says the survivors, work as a support group for each other. She's amazed at the amount of survivors at Relay.
Click on the picture above to see Asa Stackel tell three cancer stories from founding members of Lewis County Relay for Life.
*Editor's Note: In our original story and broadcast version, Joyce Pellam is incorrectly identified as Joyce "Pellan"
Sunday, December 11, 2016, Watertown, NY