Tailgate Returns

ST. MARYS —  An annual fundraiser to help combat cancer swings into full gear today.

The St. Marys Tailgate for Cancer kicked off Friday night with a preview show in the St. Marys Eagles parking lot. Today’s festivities start with a 5K at 9 a.m., and will feature entertainment throughout the course, said Traci Lauth, co-owner of TLC and St. Marys Tailgate for Cancer committee member.

“We have the Pep bands from St. Marys, and the cheerleaders,” she said. “We have cheerleaders from Wapak and Celina. We have a pep band from Coldwater. The St. Marys Fire Department is helping us out, and WKKI will be there doing the live remote at the new shelterhouse by the St. Marys Hardware.”

After the race is over, cancer survivor Brad Keenan will be giving an inspirational speech on behalf of the organization Warrior Mode, and there will be a ceremony with awards for the race winners. Any cancer survivors present at the ceremony will be honored as well.

The fun does not end there, as the event also features football on the jumbo screen with the OSU and California game. Gates open at 2 p.m. and game time is at 7 p.m. Presale tickets are $10 and are $15 at the door. There will be Buckeye memorabilia auctions and raffles, food and drinks, a 50/50 drawing, and live entertainment will feature the Beer Barrel Boys, the Wannabies, Almost Brothers and Staples. The grand door prize will be the 2013 Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, a cruise for two donated by Travel Partners of Dublin.

This event has raised $203,000 as of October 2012, and last year’s donations totaled $63,000. Money went to the OSU Arthur James Cancer Hospital, the Auglaize County Cancer Association, the Mercer County Cancer Association and the Auglaize County Crippled Children and Adults.

Money that is donated to the OSU Arthur James Cancer Hospital is used towards all types of cancer research, Lauth said. Individual donors can specify, to a point, where they want their donation to go.

“There’s a group from New Bremen that one of their friends is fighting ovarian cancer, so they donated like a large raffle item,” she said. “When we raffle that item off tomorrow night, that money that’s raised for that item is going to be sent directly for ovarian cancer. So people can specify if there’s a specific cancer that they want that money to go (toward fighting) they can do that. Otherwise, money is distributed as needed by the organizations it is given to.”

The focus of the event has shifted since its first year, from being all about fighting breast cancer. Lauth emphasized that the purple ribbons placed around the Tree of Hope, which is near the Eagles parking lot, signify the fight against all types of cancers.

Set up for the event has been going well, Lauth said.

“We’re just looking for a good turnout and we’re just hoping to exceed last year’s totals,” she said. “We never really set a goal. We want it to be a good community event (where) everybody comes and has a good time.”