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Aurora -- Sarah Hillyer of Aurora recalled the day she met her late husband, Mike. It was the day after she attended her first Ohio State football game in Columbus.
Sarah, a retired teacher, was a participant June 6-7 at the Northern Portage Relay For Life event at Aurora High School's Veterans Stadium. She is a member of the Miller-Craddock schools Relay For Life team, which has been in existence for 15 years.
The Northern Portage Relay For Life was expected to bring in about $56,000, according to co-chairman Chuck Richardson.
The goal was $60,200, according to co-chairman Kevin Nietert, who added the event featured nine teams with 143 participants. Last year's Relay raised about $48,000.
Remembering when she met her husband, Sarah Hillyer said, "I said to my mom, 'I just met a guy. He's really funny. You'll like him.'"
Everybody liked Mike Hillyer. "He was one of the most fun-loving guys," said Teri Hickey, a Miller-Craddock team member.
Barb Kudley, also a Miller-Craddock team member, added, "Mike had the best sense of-humor."
Mike Hillyer died of liver cancer 2 ½ years ago. "I came here in his memory," Sarah said. "I have so many friends who have fought so hard [against cancer]. Everybody has been touched."
Mike Hillyer was the AHS band booster president for eight years. He and his wife were big Ohio State football fans. The Hillyers rarely missed an OSU game.
They had tickets for the 2003 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3, 2003 in Tempe, Ariz., in which Ohio State defeated Miami, 31-24, in double overtime to capture the national championship, but Mike was recovering from a July heart attack, so they gave the tickets to their daughter, Karen.
Mike Hillyer battled cancer for about one year before he died. "We've got to keep working to find a cure," Sarah said.
Barb Kudley, a library assistant at Miller and Craddock and wife of Council member John Kudley, twice beat cancer -- colon cancer 16 years ago and breast cancer eight years ago.
"Everybody has been touched by cancer," she said. "Everybody knows somebody ..."
Hickey, a Craddock teacher, said she was there to support Barb Kudley. They were also in attendance to honor Hal Estis, the late husband of retired Craddock teacher Phyllis Estis. Hal Estis died liver cancer.
Ravenna's Shelly Denison recalled the horror of learning in 1996 that she had ovarian cancer. "But I'm one of the lucky ones," said Denison, explaining how she had surgery in 1997 and has been free of cancer since.
Denison was a participant at the Northern Portage Relay For Life. She has been a member of Carol's Crew, a Relay team captained by former Streetsboro resident Carol Ranta, since 2003.
"This [taking part in Relay For Life] is a way to fight back," Denison said. "We're raising more money for research -- more research to help more people."
Denison said a parent of one of her best friends died of lung cancer in 2010. "I feel extremely lucky to be here," she said.
Linda Savel, a Shalersville resident and former Streetsboro resident, is Ranta's sister. Their grandfather, Steve Savel of Bainbridge, died of cancer in 2008. Linda Savel was at Relay For Life to honor him.
"You feel like you're actually doing something [by taking part]," she said. "You're giving time."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC