Youngest Relay-ers end event
By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 17, 2014 10:37 PM
After 15 hours of walking and celebrating at Relay for Life, Honorary Youth Chairman Joshua Paul Weaver had at least one more lap in him before his team packed up.
To the tune of the "Cupid Shuffle," he and roughly 50 other young people -- most of them still energetic from the night before -- took up the cause during Saturday's Kids Walk.
Weaver, a 15-year-old cancer survivor, wished that this year's Relay experience wouldn't stop.
"I want to do this again," he said from the front of the pack.
The Youth Walk invites children, through their schools, to participate in walking and games to support cancer research during Relay's final morning. The event helps raise money by selling bracelets that give children access to activities placed throughout Relay.
And they were taking advantage of the deal.
Many children had already settled down near the giant inflatables where screams accompanied children rocketing down slides.
"I'm sure a lot of kids slept well last night," youth committee co-chair Carey Massengill said.
Mrs. Massengill and her husband, Jason, has been relaying for more than a decade, and for her, the Youth Walk is another way to spread the importance of Relay to another generation.
For many of the children, cancer is a just a word, she said.
The prevalence of the deadly disease, however, has their parents working to educate them now on what that word means.
Mrs. Massengill has been bringing her own daughter, Emma, to Relay since she was a baby.
Given the unofficial title of "Relay Princess," Emma has helped raise money for the Massengill and friends team, the Flip Flop Gang. In 2008, Emma even won the "cutest baby" award.
"We do this so, hopefully, they won't have cancer at our age. Maybe their generation will find the cure," she said.
Jason Cox brought his daughter, 6-year-old Jenna, to the Youth Walk to begin her education on the importance of cancer research. He brought her Friday night to light a luminaria in honor of her uncle, Michael Cox, a cancer survivor.
"I think it was good," Jenna said. "I jumped on the bouncy houses."
"We wanted to get our kids involved in it and understand the importance of the effort. We need to start young even though they may not get it," Cox said.
During the Youth Walk, Jenna was playing with her friend, 6-year-old Sally Ann Mitchell. She had lit a luminaria Friday in honor of Relay supporter Jerry Mitchell, who lost his fight to cancer less than a week ago -- Sally Ann is the granddaughter of Mitchell, former pastor of Garris Chapel United Methodist Church.
"Kids need exposed to what cancer is," Cox said.
Cox is a member of the Garris Chapel team and he has heard the sermons that came from his pastor's struggle.
"In one of his last sermons, he said that God makes good stuff out of bad stuff. Relay is one of those things," Cox said.
Lavena Perry also brought her granddaughters to Relay during the Youth Walk.
The group was taking a short breakfast break before finishing the day.
Mrs. Perry brought the girls, 16-year-old Regan Kasulis, 12-year-old Kali Kasulis and 6-year-old Emma Pelt, to show support for the cause and to honor those that have fought the disease, she said.
Mrs. Perry said the three helped her raise money for Wayne Radiation Oncology's Relay team, whose total came in over $10,000.
"I think our generation needs to support cancer research. We need to find (a cure) now before we grow up," Kali said.