LOCK HAVEN - Looking for a superhero?
There's no need to travel as far as Batman's lair in Gotham City, or to Superman's Fortress of Solitude in the frozen wastelands.
Superheroes there were aplenty, this weekend, all of them gathered at Riverview Park in Woodward Township, for the annual Clinton County Relay for Life.
These people - hundreds or more of them - don't leap buildings in a single bound. They do walk, however, and they fight a huge battle with a dreaded disease called cancer.
Each year, these community members, citizens, and fellow workers, your neighbors, raise money by various means against a pledge to walk at the annual relay.
This year there were cheers among a tired gaggle of supporters, early Sunday morning, as Co-Chair Rona Houser and Meredith Welshans announced the results.
The local volunteers and teams raised $62,497.70, according to the unofficial tally, and it's likely the final figure will go higher before the August deadline.
The top team was "Family for Life," a newcomer gathering that managed to bring in $9,332.47.
Second place went to Kissinger, Bigatel and Brower Team, standing at $5,973.62 and the Shamrocks, always a strong and perennial favorite, brought in $5,245.
In all, over 20 teams representing many more area residents participated in the event. Being a superhero was pretty much routine this weekend, as it was the local theme for this year's event.
Nobody was lifting boulders, shooting laser beams out of their eyes or such.
Much more important work to do than all that superpowery flashy stuff, don't you know.
And the mere 24 hours devoted to this effort on a weekend doesn't begin to tell a story of the heroic efforts these volunteers make all year long, by selling trinkets, making hotdogs, running raffles, and raising cash.
These heroes range in age from infant to infinity (or at least an age high enough to remain untenanted and ignored).
Yup ... Superheroes, all.
Don't believe me? ... Just ask Chad Long.
He gave the opening ceremony speech Saturday.
Long, a pastor at New Hope Fellowship and his wife Beth, have two young boys, Jesse, 4, and Joseph, 3. Joseph, another superhero of sorts, was diagnosed with Stage 3 liver cancer (hepatoblastoma) at 17 months old, on Oct. 18, 2010.
On Saturday, Joseph could have been wearing a colorful costume and cape ... Certainly he had superhero-like energy and enthusiasm as he ran up and had his dad gather him into his arms.
After six cycles of chemotherapy and liver surgery Joseph is now one year in remission.
"You are all helping to save lives, one step at a time," Long said.
Lock Haven Mayor Rick Vilello looked out across the crowd and noted that Clinton County traditionally out-raises counties four or five times large in population.
"Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, you can't beat Clinton County," he said.
Long wanted the volunteers to know "just how much it actually matters," all this trinket selling and lifesaving.
He said after Joseph was diagnosed, the family engaged in a hectic and exhausting period from diagnosis to surgery to recovery to treatment and along the journey, found strength in faith and community.
"You were a part of that," he said. "There were some days we were just happy to be a family at home, watching television and not worrying about what comes next ... God partnered us with you. This is not some nebulous place. Real lives are being changed by you, and our family is one of them."
In the end, he said, the greatest superpower of all can be reduced to one word:
Love, Long said, is a choice to walk in fellowship with our neighbors, share their trials and bolster their strength when they are at risk of falling.
Houser and Welshans both talked about how life changing an experience like this can be, as they thanked Woodward Township for the use of the park, the committee members, the committees, the team captains, the event sponsors, the friends, the community and especially the survivors and caregivers, for supporting the cause and never, ever giving up.
The Clinton Relay event is one of thousands going on this spring and summer nationwide to help raise funds to help in the fight against cancer.
"Together, Houser said, "we can find a cure, one step at a time."