Goldwings rally, support fundraiser

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Hope, remembrance and continuing to fight were words on the minds of participants at this year's Osceola County Relay for Life, which took place for 24 hours from June 19 to June 20.

Hosting at the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds, survivors and caretakers took to the track to celebrate another year of birthdays and remember those who have passed following their battle against cancer.

"We're having a blast," said Mary Lynn Robertson, the American Cancer Association representative for the area. "The weather is absolutely amazing this year and I think it'll be an event to remember."

Nearly 15 teams consisting of children, teens, adults and seniors, walked laps around the track, showing support for each other and carrying on the fight against the disease which claims dozens of lives each year in and around the county.

This year's event featured a number of themed laps, a 5K, games, Zumba and more to keep walkers motivated through morning, evening and night. It also hosted the famous luminary ceremony, where names were read amid somber candlelight.

During the day, Sacred Heart Church team members Ryan Tenbrink, Logan Tenbrink and Olivia Umlor, from Grand Rapids, walked together down the track. The trio said they were enjoying being a part of Relay.

"It's cool," Ryan said. "It feels good because I know people who have cancer and it's nice to show support."

Logan and Umlor agreed.

"It's great to support a cause while having fun," Umlor added.

One of the highlights of Relay for Life, was the Survivor Celebration, which gathered survivors and their caretakers together for an emotional lap around the track. Following the walk, survivors took part in a balloon release and dinner.

Sears residents Jack and Sharon Hainstock took part in the Survivor Celebration. The couple participates in Relay in honor of Sharon, who is a cancer survivor, and Jack's previous wife, who passed away from the disease. Other family members were victims of cancer as well.

"We like walking and seeing friends and neighbors here," Jack said. "We always stay for a few hours and it's good to be here."

On the other side of the fairgrounds, rumbling engines could be heard as members of the Goldwings Touring Association of Michigan gathered at the barns and community building for their annual state rally. Nearly 70 men and women attended this year with bikes of all brands, ready to unite for local cruising, a golf outing, games and fellowship.

"Evart is a great community," said GWTA Michigan Assistant State Director Linda Jamros. "There's lots of good riding and good people here. It's also centrally located, which works out great and the fairgrounds are a great place for us to be."

The members also make a point to participate and support Relay for Life throughout their rally.

In the early evening, bikers took to the track for a few laps to honor friends and family members who have been affected by cancer. At night, they take the motorcycles to the track and ride as a parade, lights of all colors flashing for all to see and enjoy.

"It's worked well together, having them here," Robertson said. "Everyone enjoys their light show and it's nice to have them show their support."