Youngstown’s Relay for Life resonates with local woman fighting cancer

debbie fay youngstown relay for life


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Relay for Life is all about supporting cancer fighters and survivors, and remembering those who lost the battle. But for one woman, the event is more personal and has taken on a whole new meaning.

“I have breast cancer and I started my journey in January,” Debbie Fay said. “I just had chemo, my fourth treatment yesterday, but I’m here today!”

For the event, groups of friends form teams — with one representative always walking the track — all to raise money for cancer research. Debbie said her team alone raised thousands of dollars through fundraisers leading up to and during the walk.

Debbie’s team, One Tough Cookie, was just one of several packing into the Beeghly Center at Youngstown State Friday night.

The Relay for Life is high-energy with fun activities, but there are some somber moments.

“It’s like a party but when I took that survivor lap, I mean, people were crying, people were cheering, and it was just something I’ve never experienced,” Debbie said.

Her journey with the disease has taught her how important the Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society are to cancer patients.

“They found me a long blonde wig and donated it to me, and they’re hundreds of dollars. So it’s all because of things like this where money is made and donated right back.”

This is Youngstown’s 50th Relay for Life.

“We decided to combine that with the American Cancer Society’s ‘A World With More Birthdays’ and go with a Happy Birthday theme overall,” said organizer Ben Dalrymple, who is a cancer survivor himself.

Friday’s Relay in Youngstown was the first of the season, but there are a lot more happening around the Valley. To search for an event near you, visit the Relay For Life’s interactive tool on its website.