A team of Villagers mostly in their eighties came together at this year’s Relay for Life with a special name and mission.
The team participated in Relay for Life at The Villages Polo Fields under the name “Consider Yourself Hugged.” They are connected to the On Our Own group at Hope Lutheran Church in The Villages and were participating in the event to honor the Reverend Dr. Ellen Jean Skatrud-Mickelson, a pastor from the church who died this past December at age 66.
“I think the reason we all really got perked up was we’re doing this for Pastor Ellen,” said Village of Largo resident Shirley Eick, leader of On Our Own. “That’s what we knew her as. She’s a friend to all of us and she’s helped us all out.”
Eick said the group also drew inspiration from one of its own members.
“We have somebody right now who is in stage 4 cancer that is very active,” Eick said. “She participates in everything we do.”
Joyce Cover, of the Village of Duval, said she’s extremely proud of those who participated in the Consider Yourself Hugged team.
“Their average age is in their eighties and they all stepped up and we raised over $4,100 for this Relay for Life effort,” she said.
Debbie Marsich, of the Village of Mallory Square, agreed.
“I’m very proud of them,” she said. “They’re not youngsters and they’re doing a lot.”
Eick said the On Our Own group provides a place for those who are widowed, divorced or single to be with others experiencing similar situations. She added that caretakers who have spouses who are not socially active also are welcome to take part in the group.
“Our main goal is to get them back into life again and be with people that have similar experiences and make new friends,” Eick said. “We do a lot of activities, both for the church and outside the church.”
Eick added that it’s important for people to become active and social after they’ve lost a spouse, faced a similar situation or just don’t have any friends in the area.
“That’s our main purpose,” she said. “And we do a lot of mission work in the church and outside of it.”