Julie McNickle/Contributing Photographer
Survivors released purple balloons following the first lap of the Osage County Relay For Life fundraiser Saturday at the Lyndon High School Football Field.

It was a celebration fitting for anyone’s birthday, and the gift was more than anyone could hope for. This year’s theme for Osage County’s American Cancer Society Relay For Life: “Imagine a world with more birthdays,” set the tone of the all-night party at Lyndon’s football field, and the money raised, $57,029.61, was the birthday present given for cancer research.

Walking around a track lined with 1,200 luminaries throughout the night, four teams emerged as the top givers of the event: RJ's Auction, $10,444; All in the Family, $4,450; Holy High Steppers, $4,330; and Zion Lutheran Church, $4,210.

The ceremony began at 6 p.m. with the raising of the flag, and Nicole Majors, Osage City, singing the national anthem. The opening ceremony was followed by the survivors’ walk around the track and release of party balloons.

Pastor Dan Muzzy, of Burlingame Federated Church, gave the invocation. Guest speaker was Dr. Jakica Tancabelic, of Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center.
The luminaria lighting ceremony included reading of names in honor and memory of cancer victims. A tiki torch lap was made in memory of all those in Osage County who were lost to cancer over the past year.
The 20 teams continued the walk from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday. An estimated 500 people participated in the celebration of birthdays to come.

Some of the events throughout the night included cookie walk laps, Relay bingo, Minute To Win It contest, heads or tails, and Name That Tune.
One highlight was the Queen of the Relay contest, in which men volunteers dressed as women and put on an act for votes. The winner was Rita (Rick Garvin) from RJ's Auction.

Music was provided throughout the night by Solid Rock Sound Machine, presented by Drew and Karen Walker.

Pizza madness started at midnight, with the help of Buzzard’s, Legends and Pizza Hut.

The closing ceremony was led by Julie Trout and Cherity Kerns, and was followed by a punch card prize drawing for all who participated.

As the walkers headed home, Scranton Lions Club arrived at 6 a.m to clean up the football field.