"This is the fight of a life, for a life," said resident Jon Bitman who spoke at the start of Friday night's Relay for Life of the Two Rivers about his battle with stage four pancreatic cancer.
Bitman, who serves as a councilman in the borough, said that he was diagnosed on Nov. 15, 2011, just two days after going to the doctor for abdominal pain. "Yikes," he told the crowd gathered around the stage for the opening ceremonies of the annual event held at , "how your world can change in 48 hours."
The event, which ran Friday night through early Saturday morning, gave encouragement to those battling the disease, strength to those who love them and hope to the many who have lost special people in their lives to cancer.
Bitman encouraged others battling cancer to focus on two things: attitude and support.
He said it was his positive attitude that helped him cope with the 52 hours of chemotherapy he endures each week. And he said the support he's received from his family, friends and the community has also provided solace during his fight.
"If caring was an Olympic sport, my wife and girls would be gold medalists," Bitman said of Dale, his wife of 28 years and daughters Cori, 18 and Jordan, 23.
The Two Rivers event raised over $54,000 with 51 teams and 424 participants walking around the track in shifts over the course of about 10 hours.
Participants set up a sea of tents and could be seen tossing a frisbee or playing corn hole while the high school's vocal majors entertained the crowd from the main stage. Throughout the evening and into the early morning hours, activities like the frozen t-shirt contest and musical chairs helped keep participants busy when they were not walking around the track.
Emotional moments came when survivors made their way around the school's track and later in the evening when the track and bleachers were aglow for the Luminaria ceremony.
We hear that temperatures plummeted throughout the night and the dew that set in kept sneakers pretty soggy, but we're pretty sure that having to put on an extra layer of clothing is nothing compared to fighting cancer.