Relay brings out the best in fight against cancer

Walkers at Hernando High set a record for the American Cancer Society.

Published May 6, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Chris Reckner never thought much about cancer before.

But then his 56-year-old mother got sick earlier this year, dying two weeks ago of the disease.

As he walked around the Hernando High School track Saturday morning, the Spring Hill resident said he never thought he'd be involved in a community activity like this - the annual Brooksville Relay for Life, in which participants walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The 2007 event, which began Friday and lasted through Saturday morning at the school stadium, raised a Hernando record of more than $120, 000.

"But I know that I'll be here every year, " Reckner said. "It puts a more realistic perspective on this when it happens to you."

According to relay chair Janie Wiley, the goal for this year's event was $95, 000. While checking throughout out the night for updated totals, Wiley said she was thrilled each time she saw the numbers go up.

Meanwhile, to kept active and awake, participants played games like tug of war and three-legged races during the overnight event.

Two teams - the Leopards for Life and Brooksville Regional Hospital - both raised more than $20, 000, another record within the county.

"That's the first time in Hernando County that that's ever happened, " Wiley said. "We've got some expenses that have to come out of the final total, but I just can't believe what we did. It's great."

A cancer survivor herself, Wiley was also presented with a special courage award, which goes to relay participants who go above and beyond what it takes to make the event happen.

While Wiley has had both breasts removed from breast cancer and surgery for cervical cancer in the past, she most recently had surgery for skin cancer. But that didn't stop her from planning this year's Relay for Life.

She's already making plans for next year, which will have a rock 'n' roll theme.

"I'm not alone in this, " Wiley said. "There are lots of us out there."

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com or 352 848-1432.