Relay for Life organizers in Columbus have announced a new location and a new, six-figure goal as they take steps to fight cancer.

Sixteen teams will participate June 17 at Donner Park Shelter House, 22nd and Sycamore streets in Columbus, said organizer and Columbus resident Kathy Toburen. She serves as senior community manager of community development for the American Cancer Society.

“We have seen an upward trend (in donations) especially the past five years,” Toburen said. “It has just grown and grown.”

That helps explain why the Columbus goal rests at $100,000, after teams generated $93,289 last year.

Meanwhile, the Eighth Annual Relay for Life of Hope will be June 3 with seven teams on the historic Hope Town Square with a goal of $15,000, event lead Jonna Shepherd said. Nine teams raised $25,000 last year, but Shepherd said it’s tough for the same people to commit to the time it takes to raise that much year after year.

“We’re still small-town USA,” Shepherd said. “And we don’t have as many teams this year.”

Shepherd is passionate about the cause in part because she lost husband, Larry Shepherd, to breast cancer in 2011.

“There still are not very many men even aware they can get breast cancer,” she said.

Funds raised help the American Cancer Society provide free information and support for people facing the disease today and fund cancer research that will help protect future generations. During Relay For Life events, members of each team take turns walking or running around the track or path.

Teams also participate in fundraising in the weeks and months leading up to the event.

Toward that end, a 12-member Columbus team called the Cure Crusaders is sponsoring a flocking event during May. A person pays $20 to have a flock of fake purple flamingos placed in the yard of a person they designate.

That person will then have to pay $20 to have a flock removed. Also, people can pay $10 for flocking insurance, to avoid having a flock land in their yard.

Crusaders’ member Rebecca Dever liked the idea after she noticed online that teams had used the general concept in other Indiana towns.

“This just seemed like the perfect year to do this,” Dever said.

She is participating in her 20th straight Relay for Life. She has lost her father, a grandfather and an uncle to cancer, all in the past seven years. Several other team members have also had relatives who faced cancer.

Her mom is celebrating 21 years as a cancer survivor, however.

“This really brings you together and helps you to encourage each other,” Dever said.

Other upcoming fundraisers include a motorcycle ride and elementary school “penny wars” collection drive.

Dever mentioned that, on the day of the actual event, the survivors’ walk portion of the unfolds as both emotional and inspiring.

“It’s such an amazing experience,” she said.

Relay for Life of Columbus

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 17.

Where: Donner Park, 22nd and Lafayette streets in Columbus.

Why: To raise money for the American Cancer Society to continue its fight against cancer.

Activities: Survivors cookout, ice cream social and pizza party.

Information: Facebook page at Relay for Life, Columbus Indiana or the webpage for Relay for Life of Columbus.

Relay for Life of Hope

When: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 3.

Where: Historic Hope Town Square.

Why: To raise money for the American Cancer Society to continue its fight against cancer.

Goal: $15,000.

Activities: Will include a Hartsville Volunteer Fire Department fish fry beginning at 11 a.m., plus live music and more.

Information: Relay for Life of Hope Facebook page.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.