Relay for Life 5

Local volunteers join forces to battle cancer

“You have cancer”.

These three little words are ones no one wants to hear. For Lori Ewing, one of the three chairs for the Relay for Life of KC North, she volunteers her time so that no one would ever hear those words again. New for 2017 is a combined relay from three existing ones– Liberty, Kearney, and Gladstone/Northland– into the Relay For Life of KC North. This really encompasses a much larger area – Kearney, Excelsior Springs, Liberty, Smithville, Gladstone, Parkville, Platte City and North Kansas City. The event will take place Friday, June 23rd at the South Valley Middle School track.

“The major advantage to a combined relay is to have a bigger participation.  Who wouldn’t rather go to an event that will have over 500 people in attendance than one that might have 10 teams and 100 people?  The joining of efforts allows for bigger committees and hopefully bigger participation.  This also gives potential sponsors a bigger audience,” Ewing says.

Not only is the Northland combining into one big relay, so are the other events around the area, and all will have the same date.

“Before, there was a total of 12 events in the metro area. We are combining the other events in KC metro into two other Mega Events and all three of our events will take place on the same night–June 23, 2017.  Rather than having a bunch of little relays popping up all throughout the year, people just have one date to remember and they can go to whichever event works best for them,” Ewing says.

The two other events are Relay For Life of JoDotte, which combines all of Johnson County and Wyandotte Relays, and will take place at the Olathe District Activity Center. The Relay For Life of Jackson County combines KCMO, Independence, Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit and all of Eastern Jackson county area, and will take place at Blue Springs High School.

Ewing knows first hand how those three little words can turn a world upside down and wants to help others never experience them.

“I started participating in the Relay For Life of Liberty in June of 2010 after I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41.  My first Relay event was the week I finished my last round of chemo.  It was a triumph for me to participate and walk in the Survivor lap.  My passion for the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life started then. I am cancer free today.  I have also had several family members and friends that have gone thru cancer.  Educating people on the signs of cancer and letting them know there are people out there to help is one of my big reasons for staying involved,” Ewing says.

Sheri Pratt of Kearney has been a team captain for several years and has learned something new every year. Helping people has been her joy, and that is reflected in her nine-year-old daughter Kelsey, who is an avid fundraiser for their team with lemonade stands, and selling rainbow loom bracelets.

“She is always thinking about the relay and helping people with cancer! We continue to watch and see her putting others’ needs and happiness before her own. While at school for her Valentine’s party this year, she pulled her binder out and I noticed she made a picture about the relay and helping people with cancer as her binder cover. It’s awesome to see how much she cares and inspires others,” Pratt says.

Since 2009, the Northland, Liberty and Kearney relays have raised collectively over $1.1 million dollars for American Cancer Society, and that number will continue to grow. The best way to get involved is to set up a team of friends, family members, coworkers and come enjoy the event.  If you would like to volunteer for the relay, you can always contact the American Cancer Staff Partner, Maggie Hubbard at Setting up and tearing down are two of the toughest times, and help is always appreciated then.

If you can’t make it out to the event on June 23rd, please consider making a donation to the event at or by contacting Maggie Hubbard.