By BRITTANY SCHOCK
Daily Globe Staff Reporter
SHELBY - After undergoing treatment for three years in his battle against prostate cancer, Jack Gray decided in 2007 that it was his turn to give something back to the LiveStrong foundation that had helped him so much in his fight against cancer. With this thought, the Shelby Cancer Rally was born, drawing about 100 people in its first year and raising about $1,100 in funds for the LiveStrong foundation. Since then, the rally has grown consistently in both attendees and funds raised, with last years rally drawing 500 people and raising over $12,000. Gray hopes those numbers will continue to grow this Sunday, May 19 at Masons Court behind Central School in the rallys seventh year.
If were going to win this war against cancer, we all have to get involved, said Gray. Everybody doing a little bit is better than just a few people doing a lot.
Shelbians will have a chance to do their part at Sundays rally in a number of different ways. The rally will start at 1 p.m. with registration for the 5K family run/walk, and the six-mile family bike ride. The cost for both races is $15 per person, which includes a Shelby Cancer Rally t-shirt and wristband. Riders, runners and walkers will begin at Central School and loop around Shelby neighborhoods before returning back to the school. Gray stressed that participation in the 5K or bike ride is not mandatory for anyone who wants to come to the rally.
You dont have to run or ride or walk to come down and be there to show your support for the rally, for your friends and neighbors, for LiveStrong, he said.
Also beginning at 1 p.m. is the rallys silent auction, with a wide variety of items donated from businesses both local and around the state.
Weve got two sets of tickets to the Indians, four tickets to a Cincinnati Reds game, homemade pies, rose bushes, handmade quilts, the list goes on and on, said Gray.
Starting at 2 p.m. the actual rally program will begin. Attendees will hear from Gray himself information about the LiveStrong foundation and its fight against cancer, as well as the story of a local cancer survivor. This year Lesli Neal of Barkdull Funeral Home has agreed to share the story of her fight against cancer.
One of the things LiveStrong does really well as a foundation is we share stories, explained Gray. One of the most powerful tools we as survivors can use is to share our story about support, help, and reaching out. Theyre inspiring and they get peoples attention.
After a short prayer, a moment of silence, and a dove release in memory of family members no longer with us, the 5K and bike ride will begin. Gray expects the event to end around 3:30 p.m., after runners, walkers and riders return and the silent auction is concluded. All money raised at Sundays event will to directly to the LiveStrong foundation, whose mission is to help any and all people affected by cancer.
The special thing about our foundation is we dont deal with just the cancer patient, we deal with the family members, health care providers, caregivers, and the support structure as well as the survivor, explained Gray, who works as a leader for the foundation. Were probably about the only nonprofit that works in that way.
Gray noted that Shelby in particular has been influential across the country and the world in its efforts to raise money for the foundation. Last year at an event in Philadelphia, Chairman of the LiveStrong foundation Doug Ulman praised the work that has been done in Shelby, a community of 90,000 people. When Gray corrected Ulman by saying the community was actually only 9,000 people, he was stunned.
Its safe to say almost everybody thats active with LiveStrong knows Shelby, Ohio, because were a small community and nobody out there puts up the kind of numbers that Shelby does, said Gray. This community of 9,000 people has raised hopefully after Sunday over $100,000 for LiveStrong, which is amazing. And its because this community steps up and takes ownership of something like this.
Weve all been touched by this disease. And this community gets it, and like so many other things theyre not afraid to get involved, theyre not afraid to do what needs to be done, and were so grateful for that.
For more information about the Shelby Cancer Rally, or to download a registration form for the 5K or bike ride, visit www.shelbysupportslivestrong.org.