By Aaron Moody
February 17, 2017
Twenty years ago, Jill Cottengim was undergoing cancer treatment at the same time local American Cancer Society representatives were looking to launch a Relay for Life in Garner.
Many people know that Cottengim and close friend Stephanie Smith, both diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, decided to take on establishing a local fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society’s research and family-support programs.
That first event was held at Garner High School, where it stayed for a decade before moving to Lake Benson Park.
“We just ran with it,” Cottengim recalled.
Cottengim has been the event chair every year since, fueled even more after Smith lost her battle with the disease several years ago.
“It just became something I was committed to and wanted to make sure we could find a cure somehow,” Cottengim said.
Relay for Life presents an opportunity for people to remember those who have lost their fight with cancer, celebrate those who are continuing to fight and thank their caregivers.
Cottengim wants the entire Garner community – residents and corporate sponsors alike – to step up support for the cause and get involved for the Relay’s 20th anniversary this spring.
“We really want this year to get people who have thought about participating in the past but just haven’t,” she said. “We’d really like to reach out to churches and civic groups and businesses and families, and if they don’t want to start a team, we’d still like them to join us for the Relay.”
Cancer survivors are a big part of Relay. Their presence at the event serves several purposes.
“It’s so that they can be honored for the battle they’ve endured, but also to be able to show other people they’ve survived,” Cottengim said. “It is so important for survivors to come.”
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