Among the dozens of teams participating in today's Ohio County Relay for Life will be a group of ''pipeliner wives'' aiming to make a difference in the community.
The group hails from an RV park just south of Moundsville, where they are living while their spouses are working on welding together natural gas transmission lines in the Marshall County area.
Amanda Smith, whose husband Todd Smith works for Sheehan Pipeline, said she always wanted to participate in a Relay for Life, but her mother Julie's diagnosis last year of salivary gland cancer spurred her to form a team - Pipeline Wife for Life.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Made up of the wives, children and friends of pipeliners, the Pipeline Wife for Life team includes, seated from left, Aby Clark, 8; Adysun Clark, 4; Hannah Smith, 4; and Shelby Smith, 6. Front row from left, Tracy Holden, Jamie Kessinger, Amanda Smith and Laura Weber. Back row from left, Cavette Pryor, Debbie Kennedy, Allison Mains, Wendy Clark and Danielle Durkin.
Relays are held across the country to raise money for cancer research. Ohio County's relay is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. today at Wheeling Park's Good Lake, rain or shine. Each team hosts a tent where they sell goods or services to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Some teams raise money weeks before the relay by holding yard or bake sales.
''Everybody has been affected by it,'' team member Debbie Kennedy said of cancer.
Smith noted the wives travel with their husbands wherever their latest round of welding work is located. And in each community they try to do a service project.
''We're fortunate, and we try to give back,'' teammate Jamie Kessinger said.
Smith, whose homebase is Missouri, said by doing good works the wives hope to combat a negative image that is often associated with pipeline workers.
''We want people to know that we're not a bunch of snobs - we're trying to help,'' Kennedy added. ''This is our family. We have our family at home and our pipeline family. We depend on each other.''
Smith noted her team has received much help from the RV park's owners, Scott and Missy Swierkos, who have donated items to sell at the relay and are making a gift basket to raffle.