Cheer on Survivors

RFL-WalMart Kickoff 09 071
Story of Survival
Published in The Missourian on 5/30/13
Written by By Karen Butterfield, Missourian Staff Writer

For Wendy Wildberger, who has been involved with the Relay For Life of Franklin County on and off since its beginning 18 years ago, the Relay is personal.

In 1990, at the age of 10, she was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a tumor in her spinal cord.

The tumor was removed surgically, but three years later, Wildberger relapsed. This time, she was treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Treatments lasted eight hours per day, two to three days per week.

In 2001, Wildberger was labeled “terminal” and told she didn’t have much longer to live. Because of nerve damage, she is paralyzed.

Her tumor eventually “settled” and hasn’t caused any further nerve damage, she said.

“I never really felt that I was terminal,” Wildberger said. “I was determined to prove the doctors wrong, and at 33, I’m still here. I have proved them wrong.”

Wildberger said that as a survivor, Relay is another opportunity to celebrate that she has beaten cancer.

This year also holds special meaning for her, since it’s the 100th birthday of the American Cancer Society.

Wildberger said she’s amazed at the advancements even just in treatment, as now, people can choose oral chemotherapy and spend much less time at the doctor’s office.

“Personally, I’m looking forward to it being the 18th year of Relay in Franklin County,” she said. “We have such a great community of survivors, caregivers and citizens who come out to support our cause.”

Wildberger reminds people that you don’t have to have cancer to attend the Relay.

“Anyone can cheer on a survivor,” she said.

More than 150 cancer survivors will walk around the track in unity [during the Survivors’ Lap].

“I can’t wait to see the full track of survivors,” Wildberger said. “It always gets me. It’s overwhelming to see all the purple shirts (survivors wear).”

This year’s longest cancer survivor [attending their event] is celebrating 47 years of survival. The newest person was just diagnosed a few weeks ago.

“Even if you’re not affected personally by cancer, as a community, we can support our survivors,” Wildberger said. “Pack the track and make some noise for them.”


Big Awards for Relay For Life events in Eastern Missouri

Volunteer leaders from Saint Louis University and Washington University celebrate their awards.

Nearly 800 volunteers from across six states recently attended the annual Relay For Life Summit, receiving educational information and updated resources needed to implement a successful Relay For Life event in their community.

With the theme ‘Dream Big, Hope Big, Relay Big,’ conference goers participated in various general sessions, breakout sessions and ‘The Experience’, which emphasized how to plan and implement a successful Relay For Life. An awards ceremony was held honoring Relays that achieved success in team development, leadership development, mission integration and fundraising.

Congratulations to the following events in eastern Missouri on their awards:

Thanks A Million: Events reaching over a million dollars cumulatively this fiscal year.

  • Cole County
  • Washington University
  • Franklin County
  • Cooper County
  • Perry County
  • Randolph County

 Top Ten Community Teams                                                                                

  • The Flower Children – $69.433 raised – 2nd overall

Top Youth/Collegiate Teams

  • Team Treasures – Perry County – 2nd overall raising $31.878.00

Rookie Youth/Collegiate Event: Top net income

  • Centralia High School placed 1st raising $29.943.86

Top 10 Community Events

  • Cole County placed 5th raising $335,463.81

Top 5 Youth/Collegiate Events

  • Washington University placed 1st      raising $263,878.83
  • Saint Louis University placed 2nd      raising $133,294.00

Top Online Youth/Collegiate Event

  • Washington University – $216.087.58

High Plains Division Community Per Capita Awards: Determined by population using adjusted census figures and based on the per capita income from all of the Relays in each county

  • Cole County – 1stin their population bucket
    • Population Bucket: 75,000-99,999
    • Raised Per Capita: $4.47
  • Boone County – 3rdin their population bucket
    • Population Bucket: 150,000-249,99
    • Raised Per Capita: $1.79

College Per Capita Awards

Saint Louis University placed 3rd

    • School Enrollment: 8,670
    • Raised Per Capita: $15.56

Washington University placed 4th

    • School Enrollment: 11,967
    • Raised Per Capita: $22.04

All American Award Winner: Event growth and implementation of Leadership Development, Team Development, Event Development, Survivor Development, Fundraising Development

  • Relay For Life of Adair County

Five Star Relay Award Winners:

  • Centralia
  • Kahoka
  • Owensville
  • Shelbina
  • Dexter
  • Warrenton

Relay For Life brings together more than 3.5 million people around the world to participate in a life-changing event, which has raised a total of more than $4.25 billion to fund the American Cancer Society’s mission. It offers participants and attendees the opportunity to celebrate the lives of those that have battled cancer, remember those lost to cancer, and empower individuals and communities to fight back against this disease that takes so much. Dollars raised through Relay For Life help support the American Cancer Society’s mission of eliminating cancer by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back.

Summit attendees returned home excited and empowered to ‘Dream Big, Hope Big and Relay Big’ at their events and year-round. For more information about your local Relay For Life visit or call 1.800.227.2345.

Adam Wainwright & the St. Louis Cardinals help the American Cancer Society extend Thanks to Relay For Life supporters

American Cancer Society Exceeds $8 Million Through 2012 Relay For Life Events in Missouri

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is continuing to spread its reach throughout Missouri, and the Society is excited to announce its year-end total, raising more than $8 million in 2012. The grand total reaching $8,073,073.90.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright shares his personal cancer connection in a video to thank Relay For Life supporters. Watch it here or visit

More than 150 Relay events were held in the state, bringing out tens of thousands of participants, including 7,993 cancer survivors and 6,244 caregivers.

“Seeing all of this participation is overwhelming. It’s amazing to see participants, donors and survivors celebrating life together,” said Julie Aycock, regional director of development.

Relay For Life is not just a fundraiser; it is a fun-filled, overnight event that mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones, and raise money for the fight against cancer.

The kickoff to the 2012 season launched 3,700 teams to begin fundraising and donating their time.

“We appreciate all the support we received from each of this year’s teams and sponsors, as well as to the many volunteers who continue to make Relay a success,” said Aycock.

Volunteers have already begun recruiting for the 2013 Relay For Life season. For more information about Relay For Life and how to become involved visit or call 800-227-2345.

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