Hedden family honored by Relay For Life

Tim Alexander TimesNewspapers
The Hedden family will be the Honorary Survivors at this year’s Relay For Life.

A well-known Chillicothe family will be honored as the 2014 Relay For Life Honorary Survivors this week, in spite of losing their family matriarch earlier this year to cancer. 

Though Paula Hedden passed away at age 64, many of the extended Hedden family that survives her is facing or has been treated for cancer in the past.  

“We have a few survivors and a few non-survivors,” said Lisa Milliken, the eldest of six children of Ron and the late Paula (March) Hedden. “There’s many of us who have had cancer.”

Over the years, her family has been impacted by numerous forms of cancer, including breast, skin, testicular, prostate, endometrial, colon, bladder and kidney. Milliken recently underwent treatment for skin cancer; she’s since been given a clean bill of health by doctors.

Through it all — or because of it — they’ve remained steadfast supporters and integral volunteers for the Chillicothe Relay for Life since its 2002 inception.

“We wouldn’t have a Relay for Life without the Hedden family. They’ve been there in a number of roles since the beginning,” said Cheri Schumaker, 

Chillicothe Relay coordinator.

“Because our family has been strongly touched by cancer, we want to work towards fundraising for the American Cancer Society and we greatly support the Relay for Life,” Milliken said, noting that the family’s connection with area EMT service Rescue 33 allows them access to tents and ambulances for use at the Relay (scheduled this year from 4-10 p.m. June 14 at Chillicothe’s Santa Fe Park). “We’ve always been the go-to family for that.”

The Hedden family’s involvement began the first year of the Chilli Relay when Lisa’s sister, Wendy, volunteered for the Survivor’s Committee. Lisa came on board soon after, helping prepare post-Relay meals and cake receptions. Pat and Ron Hedden volunteered to handle the logistics of the event, such as wiring, tent placement, etc.

“We were first a family of (Relay) supporters, but after about 2006 we began to get really involved,” Lisa said.  

The Hedden family wished to acknowledge that the 2014 Relay for Life Honorary Survivors designation bestowed on them by Relay officials is greatly appreciated. “It’s an honor, but we’re just a quiet family, Being there and helping is just our way of doing things,” Milliken said.

When asked, Milliken said she would offer families concerned about cancer in their bloodlines the following advice: “I was told by one of mom’s doctors that if a parent has (cancer), you should be screened 10 years prior to the parent’s age at diagnosis. I think you should start getting checkups early — really early.”

Nick Hedden, the youngest progeny of Ron and Paula Hedden, said he advises families facing cancer to stay close and stay positive. “Cherish the moments and be happy,” he said.

For more information on the Chillicothe Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/chillicotheil.