Judith Goles didn’t know if she could complete the first lap of Saturday’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Williams/Ledger Elementary School in Copperas Cove.

“I will go as far as I can go,” the 82 year old said before the event kicked off Saturday. She wouldn’t have been at there at all if her daughter hadn’t insisted.

“I really don’t want to be here because I want to start crying for all my friends,” Goles said, pausing for a moment. “Excuse me, it’s very sad. I don’t really want to go back there.”

“Back there” would be Goles’ journey as a 17 year cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer in 2002.

“I just said okay, fine. What do we do? Let’s do it,” Goles said. “I was going to go where God put me.”

That included surgery, chemotherapy and rehabilitation in Illinois, where she lived until moving to this area about three years ago.

Goles said she never had the big emotional crash her counselors predicted would happen following her cancer diagnosis. She thinks that’s because she focused totally on the process of trying to rid her body of cancer.

“I mean, it’s a big thing,” Goles said of being diagnosed with the disease. “But you focus on doing what your doctor tells you to do. You focus on getting well.”

Goles was among the nearly two-dozen cancer survivors who took part in the first lap of the relay Saturday morning. Organizers put those who had survived cancer the longest at the back of the group, where they chanted “I am hope” to those standing in front of them. She was able to make it through the first lap as volunteers and other relay team members cheered her on.

Organizers decided last Thursday to move the event indoors due rainy conditions that left the area around S.C. Lee Junior High School’s track too soggy to use.

The relay was moved to Williams/Ledger Elementary School, where relay teams set up their event canopies inside and decorated them just like they were outdoors.

“Outside is a lot easier for the set up, because you have...a constant track,” event leadership team member Stacey Bradley said Saturday. “(Here), we have the cones set up for people to go around and walk outside and inside, so there is an active track they can walk.”

Relay teams continued fundraising both before and during the event. The Event Lead Team managed to raise the most money with $13,816, followed by the Banking on a Cure team from Extraco Bank, which raised $8,413.

“Last year we had $4,421,” said Sabrina Brightwell of the Banking for a Cure team, which has participated for four years. “We’ve been successful each year thanks to our customers helping us out.”

A half-dozen teams raised more than $2,000 for the relay.

Eight individual participants raised more than $1,000. Jo and Madi Warren were the top individual fundraisers with nearly $2,200.

Altogether, the Relay for Life brought in nearly $46,200, substantially more than their $35,000 goal.

dperdue@kdhnews | 254-501-7568

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