Friends ‘Batting A Thousand’ for Gibson

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Scottish poet Thomas Campbell once said, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

Perhaps that phrase has never been truer than in the case of the late Rich “Hoot” Gibson, long-time Times Leader sports and news writer. Gibson died on July 3, 2013 after nearly a year-long battle with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare blood cancer. He remains fondly remembered by co-workers and friends who had the pleasure of knowing him.

In fact, Gibson’s friends and co-workers are teaming up once again, this time for the annual Belmont County Relay for Life, themed “Cruisin’ for a Cure.” The event will be held June 13-14 at the St. Clairsville Athletic Field. Opening ceremonies take place on June 13 at 6 p.m. The name of the team formed in honor of Gibson is called “Batting A Thousand.”

“When I was thinking of a team name, I knew I wanted it to deal with baseball, because I know that was a sport that Hoot really enjoyed watching and covering,” explained Gwynne Messenger of Martins Ferry, Batting A Thousand team captain.

She described Gibson as a special person and one of the first people she’d been relatively close to who died from cancer.

Many of Hoot’s stories, she said, centered on him being at a ball park, so when she asked for some team name ideas through Facebook, a good friend and teammate came up with the slogan, “We’re hitting cancer out of the park.”

“That lead to the name ‘Batting A Thousand,’ because it deals with the best batting average a player can have,” Messenger concluded.

The team has set a fundraising goal of $3,000, and have currently raised a little more than half of that. Personal donations and business donations have helped the team reach its current level, including generous donations from Quality Environmental Services and Bordas & Bordas attorneys. Various other fundraising events, including a Thirty-One raffle and baseball-themed raffles and games at the Relay for Life campsite, are planned. One item being raffled off is a voucher from the Pirates organization for two complimentary tickets to a Pirates 2014 regular season home game.

The Relay for Life is the signature event of the American Cancer

Society. Members of the community form teams to raise funds and

awareness for cancer prevention and treatment and participate in an

overnight walk filled with entertainment, survivor celebrations and

remembrance ceremonies. Teams can be composed of families, friends,

neighbors, co-workers or groups, and there’s no limit to the size of

a team – you can have as few or as many people as you wish.

Relay For Life is a celebration of survivorship. Survivors are

treated to a special Survivor’s Dinner prior to the opening ceremony,

and then join together to take the first lap of the event – the

Survivor’s Lap. Survivors then are joined on the track by their

caregivers and eventually the rest of their team members. Throughout

the evening, there will be activities and fundraisers, as well as

onsite food and beverage vendors. A luminaria ceremony takes place at

dusk.

The 2013 campaign for the Belmont County Relay for Life was extremely

successful, bringing in more than $90,000. According to the Relay web

site, almost $29,000 has been raised so far this year.

Messenger said that teams can still fundraise past the event. Anyone

who would like to contribute to Team Batting A Thousand in honor of

Rich “Hoot” Gibson can send a donation to The Times Leader, 200 S.

4th St., Martins Ferry, Ohio 43935 in care of Seth Staskey or Shaunna

Dunder Hershberger. Checks should be made payable to the American

Cancer Society.

For more information about the Belmont County Relay for Life, or to

register as a team or a survivor, or for sponsorship or volunteer

information, contact Steve Gillis at 888-227-6446, email

steve.gillis@cancer.org, or visit relayforlife.org. You can also

visit the Relay for Life of Belmont County page on Facebook.

Hershberger can be reached at sdunder@timesleaderonline.com.