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Keeping up the fight





RUSSELL -- Relay for Life of Russell County "finished the fight" for the American Cancer Society in the 20th annual event.

Approximately 200 participants camped out in the gym of Russell High School from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday. One team member must stay on the track at all times.

"The former mayor started Relay for Life in Russell for a good friend of hers who had cancer," said Damian Morgenstern, co-chairman. "A bunch of hairdressers joined her and got together to start the event."

All proceeds are donated to American Cancer Society. Funds are raised through purchasing food, donations and team member fundraising. Each team member has a goal of raising $100.

Morgenstern has been involved in Relay for Life for the past five years.

"A dear friend got diagnosed with cancer, and my grandmother had cancer," he said. "I thought this is a good way to help. Hopefully one of these days, we won't have to even worry about cancer."

Jeannine Truan was diagnosed with colon cancer two and a half years ago.

"I was very calm about it," she said. "I had faith everything would be fine, and it went very smoothly. Now I like to come out and support the cause."

Rachael Sattler still is battling colon, stomach and esophagus cancers.

"I just thought, 'This is my grandma all over again,' " she said. "My grandma had cancer and died 20-plus years ago.

"I was scared. I lost 250 pounds in a year. I always needed to lose weight, but that's a heck of a way to do it."

Sattler has a tattoo of the awareness ribbon, with the word "believe."

"I've always been passionate about helping relay when my grandma was going through it," she said. "Now I'm even more involved."

Jim Thomson walks for his wife, who lost her battle two years ago.

"This is in memory of her," he said. "She battled for 12 years."

More than $18,000 was raised in this year's event.

"This is a great event because it brings everyone together and shows (the survivors) they are not alone." Morgenstern said. "It shows them the community is behind them. I'm proud of our community for coming together and supporting the fight for the cure."