Traci's Hope turns out good crowd
In spite of a dip in temperatures on Saturday, and rains that dampened the skies in the morning hours, community members braved the weather to come out and support the annual Traci's Hope event held at the Apalachin Field Days grounds in Apalachin, N.Y.
Traci Gibson was just 38-years old when she lost her battle with breast cancer, and an effort she began prior to her death that would help families battling the disease lives on. Each year, Traci's Hope raises funds through the benefit, and then disburses the dollars to local families to assist them with whatever they need.
According to her father, Gordon Shiner, Gibson's efforts were embraced by the community, and it is the community that continues to keep it going.
A tearful Shiner talked about his daughter Traci on Saturday, and remains amazed at all the volunteers that help out, year after year.
"Look at all of this," said Shiner on Saturday as he pointed to the various tents and booths that were set up around the venue. "New people keep arriving each year to help out," Shiner added, "and we don't even ask them - they just do it."
The Komen Twin Tiers Region is one of those organizations that has joined in the effort.
"We think this is a great way to help people," said Ann Campbell, who was representing Komen Twin Tiers Region on Saturday. "Traci's Hope has helped so many, and the awareness it brings is important," Campbell added.
A volunteer who isn't new to the event is Charlene Babcock of Port Dickinson, N.Y. Babcock agreed that the community is very supportive of the annual event. She noted that families assisted often attend to show their appreciation for the help they have received.
Bonnie and Karl Zeggart attend the event each year.
"This is our third year coming to the event," said Karl Zeggart, "and it is amazing how many come out every year to support this."
Last year, because of the flooding, the Traci's Hope event held a smaller scale barbecue that would benefit flood victims. Shiner noted that when they rearranged the event last year, they targeted the funds for flood victims because "that is what Traci would have wanted."
Traveling to the Apalachin Field Days grounds, signs of last year's flooding remains evident with homes that remain vacant - many with flood lines and mud still surrounding them. But at the field day grounds, and in full swing, the Traci's Hope event built right back up to the momentum it had prior to the flood.
The only aspect of the event that was hindered by the rain was the annual Traci's Hope Motorcycle ride organized by Don and Billie Jo Wheeland. Although the rain dwindled to a mist by early afternoon, many riders who were planning to attend were greeted by downpours in the early morning hours.
But in spite of this, according to Billie Jo Wheeland, 68 arrived to participate in the ride. "These weren't the numbers we wanted," said Wheeland, "but we do appreciate those who came out to support it in the cold and the rain."
But these numbers, for people like Traci's father, aren't stopping the growth that the event is seeing each year. This year alone, more than 55 local families were assisted through Traci's Hope.
"It's just hard to believe," said Shiner. "I don't do this, all of these people do this," he added, pointing to the volunteers who were working, and the tables filled with prizes donated for the raffle.
If you didn't make the event, and would like to make a donation or learn more, visit tracishope.com.