Aurora -- Carol Ranta, a former long-time Streetsboro resident who is in her 15th year as Relay For Life captain of Carol's Crew, looks forward to the annual event for many reasons.
"I love to see how excited my grandchildren are to attend," she said. "I love meeting new friends and seeing the people that I only see at Relay For Life. I like to see the smiles on everyone's faces, no matter what the weather.
"If the event takes people's minds off what they have gone through or are going through for only a few hours, then we have done our job," she said. "Relay brings families together. I walk with my children and now my grandchildren, with my dad, my sisters and my friends.
"My grandaughter is 6, and she raised over $200 herself this year. To see how proud she is and the excitement she has for Relay means I'm doing something right."
Ranta, who moved to Streetsboro when she was married in 1978 and then moved to Ravenna in 2005, said this year's Relay For Life had more meaning for her because last July, her daughter underwent surgery a week after her 27th birthday to have her thyroid removed because of cancer.
In Janurary, her husband had to have skin cancer removed from his neck.
"Neither one may be as bad as what other people have, but but cancer is cancer," she said. "My goal is that my grandchildren will never have to really know what cancer does to families, that one day with all the hard work and hours that myself and a lot of others put into Relay, cancer stories will not have to be told.
"CANCER affects a lot of people, and it makes me sad to think of what they are going through. So I work hard every year to raise funds to make Relay fun, to bring people to Relay. We are all after the same results -- to end cancer."
Ranta urges people to volunteer in the future.
"If you have a heart, then becoming a volunteer is easy," he said. "I believe everyone has a special talent. Some can talk to people easier then others, some have ideas to share while others would rather just help someone else out.
"I tell people they can do what makes them comfortable. Relay needs all kinds of people to host an event -- those who can plan and those who can help with those plans.
"It's so rewarding to see what you have done in the end," she said. "After all these years together, my family and friends would tell you they never get a choice to volunteer because I volunteer them all the time.
"I tell people that no donation to Relay is too small. Don't make people feel they have to donate a large amount of money. Every dollar we raise is going to help in some way.
"Without our help, some people can't have tests that may save their lives, or a room to stay in while a child or a loved one is going for treatment or surgery. Raising money can be as easy as filling a 16-ounce water bottle with dimes, which is $100.
"I tell everyone that Relay is what you put into it," she added. "You can come and stay a while, then leave or stay the whole event. You can volunteer your time or sit back and see what others have put together."
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC