Walking to support survivors

Cancer is among one of the most dreaded afflictions that can befall a person. It takes an immense amount of will and frequent medical procedures to combat the disease, Marsha Halbach knows this well, because her older sister, Pam Widick, was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer in 2010.

Widick, a 1987 graduate of Webster City High School who formerly worked at Van Diest Medical Center, was projected to live up to two years after her diagnosis. Halbach said the world of a cancer patient is a grim one. She said a common joke among patients is whether or not they will live to see a fundraising benefit for their treatment costs. In Widick’s case, she has lived past her benefit two years ago, and is continuing to live with cancer. Halbach said Widick receives chemotherapy treatment every day.

Now, the sisters are holding a fundraising event not just for Widick, but for their Relay for Life team. This Friday, at The Bridge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., team Church of Christ is hosting a garage sale and bake sale fundraiser which hopes to bring in $500 for their team. The group will be setting up the fundraiser on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and is taking donations for their garage sale and bake sale at that time. The group is also accepting monetary donations.

The team has an overall goal to raise $1,000 by the end of the Relay for Life event this year. In Hamilton County, the relay will be at South Hamilton High School on June 28 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Team Church of Christ was the first of only a few groups that have signed up for the relay so far, which goes to cancer research and patient support programs through The American Cancer Society. Teams will walk the track at the high school, with pledges made for every lap they walk.

Halbach is the team Church of Christ captain. She has participated in previous relay events, but not in Webster City and not as a captain. The captain of the first team she walked with had a son who died of brain cancer. Halbach and others thought the event was worthwhile not only for the fundraising, but also as a show of support.

“My biggest hope is that people come to the fundraiser and the relay just to support families,” Halbach said. “I think that families that are dealing with cancer can be very isolated and just the encouragement that people get from donating and coming to events just really speaks volumes.”

She said that since her sister was diagnosed with cancer, her family has felt that pain, but has also received support from the community.

Team Church of Christ is open to expand their team. Halbach said anyone interested in joining her team, another team, or creating their own can do so at the Relay for Life website, relayforlife.org. Under the “Get Involved” tab, click on find an event, search for Hamilton County, and the website gives options to find or start a team. Joining an existing team waives the registration fee for the event.