COPPERAS COVE — Debbie Baumgartner waited 25 years before participating in Relay for Life, but now she’s ready to get “really involved.”
“I waited 25 years because I was afraid I would jinx myself,” the 59-year-old said Saturday after finishing a “survivor” lap at the Copperas Cove fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. “I think it’s really important.”
More than 150 people attended the relay Saturday, which ran from noon to midnight. Teams continually walked laps on an outdoor path at the Cove Civic Center to raise money for cancer research.
By the start of the event, more than $20,000 had been raised, said Bea Bagwell, chairwoman for the relay.
“I lost a stepparent to brain cancer and I’ve been relaying ever since,” she said. That was about five relay events ago.
While participants walk, many teams run booths to continue to raise money during the event. The Cancer Curesaders team, co-led by Mandy Oster, had a goal of raising $6,000.
“I have been doing Relay for Life for six to seven years,” she said. “I’ve had several family members who have had cancer, died from cancer or fought cancer. I have a great-aunt fighting cancer right now.”
Fundraising opportunities at the Curesaders’ booth included jewelry and snack sales as well as a “Bra Pong” game.
“I think this brings the community out and shows the support we have for the Copperas Cove community,” Oster said. “I hope to show the survivors and the caregivers that we appreciate what they are going through and we are behind them 100 percent.”
With her first relay completed, Baumgartner is ready to get involved with next year’s event. She also hopes she can begin to support others going through the same battle she fought 25 years ago.
“Everybody handles it differently,” she said, “but you don’t have to let it own you. You own it and don’t let it stop you.”