By SEAN BARRON
Fun-loving, smart, funny and family-oriented are some of the ways those who knew Linda Chernushin wish to remember her.
“She always smiled,”
recalled Chernushin’s daughter Kara Riccitelli. “She would make you feel better, no matter what was going on.”
Chernushin, who died March 15, 2011, from lung cancer at age 57, was the driving force behind “Linda’s Legacy,” one of an estimated 64 teams taking part in the American Cancer Society’s 2012 Relay for Life of Boardman event, which began Friday and continues until 6 p.m. today at Boardman Center Middle School.
The 24-hour gathering, in its 18th year, brought together teams representing area businesses, churches, families and schools to raise money for cancer research, advocacy, education and services.
The event, themed “Saving the day the relay way” and “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it is about dancing in the rain,” also was to celebrate lives being saved from cancer and remember those who died from the disease, organizers said.
This year’s goal is $214,000, noted Danielle Procopio, volunteer chairwoman.
Chernushin doted on her granddaughters, Mackenzie, 6, and Karlynn, 8, said Chernushin’s sister, Patty Weiss of Liberty.
Weiss’ sister also loved to spend family vacations on Siesta Key, Fla., and found it difficult to turn down a shopping opportunity, she recalled.
“She was a real shopper,” Weiss said with a chuckle. “She could find a bargain anywhere.”
Thirty-four friends as well as family and church members made up “Linda’s Legacy” in honor of Chernushin, who worked about 30 years as a nurse, most at ValleyCare Northside Medical Center and the former Southside Hospital. To Riccitelli, her mother’s legacy is clear.
“Her legacy is love and family,” she said.
Cancer survivors in purple T-shirts kicked off the relay with a survivors’ lap. Afterward, team members wearing shirts with slogans such as “Tee’d off over cancer” and “No one fights alone” walked or ran the track.
The event also featured a luminaria-lighting ceremony to honor people fighting cancer and remember those who lost their battles against the disease.
Also wishing to honor those suffering from cancer were Kerra Loomis, 15, and Rachel Kepley, 17, both members of “Team Burke,” and both Canfield High School students.
“It makes me glad we have a whole team together to raise money,” said Rachel, team captain.
Kerra said her main reason for participating was to support two family members with the disease. She added that she’s taken part in the Boardman Relay for Life for three years.
Today’s festivities include line dancing, a health fair, a cake-eating contest, entertainment and a variety of activities for children.