Road to Relay: A Special Family - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Road to Relay: A Special Family

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Relay For Life of Yellowstone County has been gaining momentum since organizing in 1994.

The event has become one of the premier relays in the country.

Many people, including one billings family, are helping to shape the growing, organized fight against cancer.

"Oh it's great! Yes it is," says Bill and Mary Underriner.

Bill and Mary Underriner are more than a husband-wife team.

They are major financial contributors to the Relay For Life of Yellowstone County.

They are organizers extraordinaire -- both have chaired the event.

"We feel like we want to give back to the community. it's a great place to live," says Bill.

And they have been directly affected by the disease at the core of the Relay For Life campaign.

"My father died from cancer in 1999," says Bill.

The sadness, anguish and sleepless nights because of cancer didn't end there.

"After we were at the 2000 Relay, a month later, we found out our son was developing cancer," says Mary.

Then came chemotherapy treatments and full body radiation for young Blake Underriner.

He was given new bone marrow.

These photos from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis -- and other family photos -- document Blake's battle and his family's journey through cancer.

"It really intensified the meaning and the passion to get this thing done," says Mary.

Relay For Life has come a long way.

In 1994, Relay raised 25-thousand dollars with 12 teams.

Now the goal is 625-thousand dollars and more than 180 teams have signed up."

The event is a time to remember those who have lost their lives.

That sadness provides a driving force to find a cure for cancer.

"Oh i just see this thing growing and growing," says Bill.

The hope by many is that Relay For Life grows into a bigger and bigger celebration of success stories like Blake Underriner's.

"We, luckily, have a phenomenal result. He is alive, he beat the odds and he's alive today," says Mary.

Relay For Life of Yellowstone County is an award-winning effort.

Last year, the campaign earned the All-American award for overcoming challenges.

Also last year, the local relay event ranked third in the nation per capita and 13th in the nation overall.

 

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