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Cancer Ribbon Trees dedicated

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CANCER SERVICES:Jennifer Lane-Riefler, executive director for Cancer Services of Grant County, speaks during a ceremony Wednesday to dedicate Cancer Ribbon Trees in front of Riverside Credit Union.
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EVERYONE KNOWS SOMEONE: Seven-year-old Gavriel Young gets help from his father, Adam, as he ties a ribbon for his uncle onto a branch of one of the Cancer Ribbon Trees dedicated Wednesday in front of Riverside Credit Union.
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RIBBONS:Participants tie colored ribbons onto the branches of Cancer Ribbon Trees following a ceremony to dedicate the trees Wednesday in front of Riverside Credit Union, at the corner of First and Washington streets.

BY Spencer Durham - sdurham@chronicle-tribune.com

When the Walk of Hope takes place May 4, ribbons will remind participants of the far reaching impact cancer has had on the Grant County community.

Wednesday afternoon Cancer Ribbon Trees were dedicated in front of Riverside Credit Union on Washington Street. Community members tied ribbons in various colors on branches in remembrance of friends and family affected by cancer.

Jennifer Lane-Riefler and Cancer Services of Grant County Inc. coordinated the event. Lane-Riefler said she purposely chose the spot, which is the starting point of the Walk Hope, and trees in particular due to symbolism. She said trees symbolize many things including strength and life.

Before the ceremony began, Lane-Riefler held her own private ceremony as she tied multiple ribbons to the trees, honoring her family members who have or had cancer.

“These ribbons represent that to me,” she said of the lifelong impact cancer has had on her family. “It’s a reminder.”

Much like herself, the trees will give others a chance to reflect.

“It’s going to be a place where people can feel closer,” Lane-Riefler said.

Darrell Smith tied a blue ribbon on one of the branches, signifying his own battle with liver cancer. Smith, senior pastor at Servant Community Church in Marion, led the group in a prayer prior to the ribbon tying.

“Jennifer and her team have made a tremendous impact on this community,” he said. “Say a prayer for these people. They don’t just bring knowledge ... they bring hope.”

Afterwards, Smith spoke highly of Cancer Services and the organization’s purpose of helping those in Grant County. The pastor said if every one of the 272 churches in the county donated one day of offering to Cancer Services it would go even further in helping those in the community.

“This money, it’s going to help ... Grant County people,” he said. “Those are the people I’m sitting beside.”

Marion resident Jeanne Davis is a 19-year cancer survivor and was one of Lane-Riefler’s first patients when she started at Cancer Services.

“They were a life-saver,” Davis said of Cancer Services. “Anything I needed I got it. Jennifer is a super lady.”

Anything included rides to Indianapolis for treatment, Davis added.

Russell Bowlds, Davis’ cousin, tied a ribbon for her. A cancer survivor himself, he too gave a strong testimony for Lane-Riefler and Cancer Services.

“Jennifer is my dear friend,” he said. “I just love her.”

Bowlds recalled one of the first times he met Lane-Riefler. Upon meeting, he said the Cancer Services director told him he needed to go to the emergency room.

“She looked at me and said I needed to get to a hospital because I was dehydrated,” he said.

Bowlds said he heeded her advice. It turned out he had pneumonia.

As those who came out tied their ribbons and went on their way, the wind blew the trees, still bare as the spring season hadn’t yet arrived. However, the trees will persist, year after year, adding to the symbolism Lane-Riefler drew inspiration from.

“There was emotion and energy tied into each ribbon,” Smith said. “They’re trees of hope.”