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Cancer survivors celebrate Relay for Life in Billings with big fundraiser

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Posted at 9:07 AM, Jul 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-10 11:07:06-04

The annual Relay for Life of Yellowstone County took center stage in Billings Friday night.

Cancer survivors took their lap around the track.

"I think the survivor lap is extremely important to show that you're persevering through cancer, and you have all the support of the community during that time," said Wendy Eubank, who walked the survivors lap for the first time. "Faith does definitely help you through this. It is a celebration and it also kind of makes it real. Sometimes you don't feel like it's actually happening. It's emotional."

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KTVQ photo

"I feel I'm part of this awesome club," said Bess Asparis, who also participated in her first survivor's lap. "You know, a club we didn't want to be a part of it, but we are bonded for life. We have to help each other."

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KTVQ photo

Q2 News caught up with cancer survivor and former Q2 chief forecaster Bob McGuire.

"I remember I talked with one guy that first year," McGuire said. "He says, 'well this is my ninth walk.' I can't even imagine doing nine of these. And now here I'm doing my 16th. It's a big deal for me because when I was laid up in the hospital and I knew that I had cancer, all I wanted to do is survive long enough, live long enough to walk around that track and enjoy the survival lap with the other people who survived cancer."

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KTVQ photo

The survivors lap was the only Relay for Life event at the track.

COVID restrictions were in place during part of the planning, so organizers put on the hybrid event with limited numbers of people, according to Cam Maxwell, co-chair with his wife Shannon.

Relay Street Edition featured luminaria lined on part of St. Johns Avenue and 24th Street West, where cars cruised as part of the festivities.

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While there are fewer people, they say they still feel the bonding, camaraderie and connection at Relay for Life.

"There's still a vibe," Eubank said. "There's still a charge of being out here supporting everybody. You can still feel that."

"It's special all the way around, " Asparis said. "You know your friends and family and coworkers are sitting around at home watching and cheering you on and praying for you. And God might bring us a rainbow too before this is out. So it's awesome."

"We're hoping what we're doing today in raising the money here will help maybe somebody else in the future, when they come down with cancer and maybe we can get them knock it out and give 'em a really good treatment," McGuire said.

Relay for Life of Yellowstone County has raised $528,570.26 in 2021.