The L.W. Heckman Gymnasium at Ottoville was packed with students and community members Friday morning for the opening ceremonies of the 13th annual Cancer Walk. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
The L.W. Heckman Gymnasium at Ottoville was packed with students and community members Friday morning for the opening ceremonies of the 13th annual Cancer Walk. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
OTTOVILLE — They’ve been fundraising since January.

On Friday, Ottoville’s 13th annual Cancer Walk total was already at $8,000.

“We start in January and we’ve held bake sales, T-shirt sales, raffles, March Madness and other events,” chair and Big Green senior Abby Hilvers said. “Cancer touches everyone and the students and community are always willing to give and participate.”

Opening ceremonies included a patriotic song led by second- and third-graders; the song “I Won’t Give Up” by Katlyn Kelch, who also played the ukulele; and the guest speaker was 2004 alumnus Jared Wehri.

Wehri and his family participated in the “Glow Walk” on Thursday evening. His son, Wade, 1, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in January.

“We’ve had our ups and down,” Wehri told the crowd. “I’m tired of being puked on but we’re pushing through and staying positive. We enjoyed the Glow Walk very much and the number of people coming up to us and giving us hugs and encouragement was phenomenal.”

Wade was diagnosed after what the family thought was a bout with pneumonia.

“We thought it was pneumonia but once they drained the fluid off his lungs, they saw the tumor,” Jared explained. “We are at the tail end of phase I of a three-phase treatment program. The tumor is about half the size it was when we started and there are fewer cancer markers in his urine.”

The family is hoping to hear good news once Phase I is done and Wade can have surgery to have the rest of the tumor removed. He will finish his treatments in May of 2019.

Wade also has 4-year-old twin brothers at home.

Due to cooler temperatures and intermittent rain, once the opening ceremonies were completed, everyone did a lap around the outside of the school and then headed back inside to finish the day. Games, raffles and the traditional cinnamon rolls awaited the crowd.

This year’s theme was “Waive Goodbye to Cancer.”

Before the final total on Friday, donations from the walk have topped $87,000 since its inception. The proceeds will be split between the Putnam County and Delphos Relay for Life events.