Cancer has touched countless lives across the world and many of those lives were right here in Decatur County.
This edition's Relay for Life team spotlight will focus on the members of the Smyrna Strollers and the reasons they choose to walk.
The Smyrna Strollers are a new team and this is only the second year for them, though some of the members have been involved with the relay for years through other teams. There are nine members on the team.
Team captain Irene Walterman is a cancer survivor herself, but when asked why she walks, Irene said she is waling in support of her friend, Judy Witkemper. Walterman was diagnosed with kidney cancer in the fall of 2010, and her husband, Max, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer mere weeks later. Max Walterman lost his battle with cancer in January of 2011, leaving his wife and daughter, Dawn Readnour, to continue the fight.
Irene is now in remission and cancer free, which gave her the strength and motivation to start the Smyrna Strollers team in memory of her husband and in honor of Judy Witkemper. Judy is currently under hospice care suffering from brain cancer. The Smyrna Strollers have a goal of selling 59 luminarias to honor Judy’s 59 years of life. Anyone interested in purchasing a luminaria in Judy’s honor can do so at www.relayforlife.org by visiting the website and typing “Smyrna Strollers” into the search bar in the middle of the page.
Walterman said that Judy has wanted to start a team since she was diagnosed with cancer three years ago but hasn’t been able to. Walterman said the Smyrna Lutheran Church has been a great comfort to Judy, who is "like a sister" to her, as well as a huge help to the team. Both Walterman and her daughter reported that the people of the church have done so much for the team, even those who are not members. Smyrna is a very small town, but the residents there pull together and give their all when one of their own is in need. Readnour said the whole church has pitched in and donated their time and money. “Even people who aren’t on the team are ready to walk and help out, doing whatever they can to support us.”
When asked why she walked, team member Dawn Readnour said, “The reason I am walking is in honor of my mom and in memory of my dad. I walk in honor of Judy also. They are all inspiration to me. It’s nice to give back in this way and help with the fight for cancer.”
Walterman added, “Cancer is a very big thing to us. It has touched a lot of our lives and had an effect on a lot of our family members. But this year we are focusing on Judy.”
In addition to the money they have raised through donations, the Smyrna Strollers will hold several fundraisers at the relay itself on June 21. Friday evening, they will have chili for sale, as well as some Indiana University collegiate t-shirts.
On Saturday morning, they will have homemade biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls, and muffins available for purchase. All money raised during the relay will go towards the team’s goal.
Anyone who is at the relay June 21 is invited to stop by the Smyrna Strollers' booth and pass along well wishes or purchase a delicious treat to help support the cause.
While cancer may take some wonderful people out of this world, it also inspires others to fight against insurmountable odds to continue searching for a cure. Many of those fighters seem to reside in Decatur County, and several are members of the Smyrna Strollers.
Any Relay for Life teams that would like to have a team spotlight are encouraged to contact Amanda Browning at email@example.com for more information.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004