DuBOIS — Shannon Shaffer, of Shannon’s Catering, is donating her services and food to this year’s survivor dinner at the 25th annual DuBois Relay For Life in memory of her father, Leo Haky, who died from cancer two years ago.
“At least once or twice a week, I’m contacted by someone requesting a donation for a fundraiser and it’s hard to give to every person that calls me,” Shaffer said. “I just thought that this community-based project would encompass a lot of people at one time.”
Shaffer said she couldn’t think of a better event to reach the most people than the Relay For Life, an annual event that celebrates those who have battled cancer and remembers loved ones lost. It is also a chance to fight back against the disease.
The Relay For Life will take place from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, at the DuBois City Park on Liberty Boulevard. The survivor dinner begins at 6 p.m., with registration at 5 p.m.
“There was something that pulled at my heart strings and told me that I needed to do something,” Shaffer said. “My dad was a big supporter of our catering service – I always said he was my biggest cheerleader. And I thought, ‘This is something he would want me to do. He would want me to give back to an organization like this.’”
Shaffer’s father died at the age of 78, shortly after being diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a very aggressive type of skin cancer that typically affects men in their later years.
Survivors and caretakers attend the dinner, which is held annually during the Relay For Life festivities, according to organizer Nora Yasick.
“It’s a celebration,” Yasick said. “We ask the survivors to come, also, to show the people who work all year that they appreciate their efforts to try to make a difference in the lives of people diagnosed with cancer.”
Anyone who has survived cancer or who is currently being treated for cancer, with one guest, can attend the dinner for free.
The principles of the survivor dinner are:
- To honor survivors and caregivers.
- A survivor is anyone living who’s ever been diagnosed with cancer.
- A caregiver is anyone who’s ever cared for someone with cancer, by providing support, giving time, or simply being there to lean on.
Anyone who has ever heard the words, “You have cancer,” is invited to attend the dinner as a survivor.
Shaffer said the dinner menu will include a fruit cup, a grilled chicken breast, rice pilaf, baked potato, whole petite green beans and cupcakes for dessert, all provided by Shannon’s Catering, which is celebrating 33 years in business this year.
“The only thing the organizers have to do is call me with the number of people attending. That’s it,” Shaffer said. “I’m going to drop off the table cloths to them Saturday morning. They’ll put the table cloths on, that’s pretty minor. Other than that, there’s not at a thing they have to worry about.”
“We’re just sort of color scheming everything together,” Shaffer said. “I’ve had the banner made so it’ll match our shirts and we’re going to donate all the linens for the tables, under the tents in purple. We’re making T-shirts, trying to get people to the Relay For Life.”
The T-shirts will have “In memory of Leo Haky” on the front and “In honor of the friends and family that are survivors,” with a list survivors’ names on the back.
“I’m going to give them to the survivors and ask them how may shirts they would like so they can get people to the park that day,” Shaffer said. “I’m hoping to be able to bring in at least a hundred extra people because of that and have them come, not necessarily to the dinner, but at least come to the park sometime throughout the day and support the different relay teams.”
A survivors lap will follow the dinner at approximately 7:30 p.m. This is when survivors, wearing purple survivor T-shirts, are recognized as they walk for their courage and strength in their fight against cancer. Other participants gather and cheer them on to show their support and solidarity.
To attend the dnner, organizers generally send out invitations to anyone who has previously participated and signs are displayed at Hahne Cancer Center. Those interested in attending and have never participated before can call 877-957-7848 and tell them you would like to register as a survivor for Relay For Life of DuBois, register online at www.relayforlife.org/padubois or call 570-326-4140 to request a paper survivor registration form be mailed to them. Reservations are appreciated by June 29.
“Survivors are some of our Relay For Life events’ most valuable players,” according to the American Cancer Society. “They are the heart of the Relay movement. The Relay event is a special time when communities can celebrate these amazing individuals. The Survivor ceremony and dinner gives the opportunity for cancer survivors and caregivers to connect and support each other.”