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Relay for Life team to host vendor show as fund-raiser

by CJ Carnacchio

April 02, 2014

Randy and Erica Nichols
Folks are invited to do a little shopping and help fight cancer at a vendor show being put on as a fund-raiser by a local Relay for Life team.

The show will run from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 19 at the Knights of Columbus hall (1400 Orion Rd.) in Lake Orion.

It will feature more than 20 vendors selling gourmet dog treats, candles, exercise/fitness videos, essential oils, scrapbooking merchandise, home fragrance products, jewelry, bath and beauty products and more, according to organizer Erica (Hughes) Nichols, a 1996 graduate of Oxford High School who now lives in Genesee County's Swartz Creek.

Admission is $5 per person. Children 12 and under are free.

There's still room for additional vendors. There's a rental fee of $20 for the first table and $10 for each additional table.

"We're giving the vendors free lunch, free (soft) drinks and a free raffle ticket," Nichols said.

Vendors interested in setting up at the show are encouraged to send an e-mail to hopekillscancer@gmail.com

All proceeds will benefit the Hope Kills Cancer team, which will be participating in the 24-hour Oxford/Lake Orion Relay for Life event on May 31 in Orion Township's Friendship Park.

Relay for Life is a signature event designed to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society.

"It would be nice to not have cancer in our lives anymore and raising money for research is getting us there," Nichols said.

The Hope Kills Cancer team was founded in 2011 in honor of Nichols' husband, Randy Nichols, who is also a 1996 OHS graduate and a two-time cancer survivor.

Randy was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in February 2008. He had it surgically removed and was in remission until December 2009 when a 7-centimeter mass was found in his stomach. He was diagnosed the day after his 34th birthday.

Surgery wasn't an option this time, so Randy received a very strong regiment of chemotherapy.

"He was very sick," Nichols said. "He wasn't able to eat. That was a big struggle."

Fortunately, Randy won his battle with the disease and has been in remission since March 2010.

"He's doing very well, but it's always going to be a struggle," Nichols said. "He has checkups every six months and you still don't know what you're going to hear (from the doctor)."

Nichols wants to do whatever she can to help raise public awareness about all the services the cancer society provides.

"The American Cancer Society offers a lot of different resources that people don't know about," she said. "They offer rides to (cancer) treatments. A lot of people don't know that. They also offer counseling."

Nichols wishes she would have known about the counseling services back when her husband was fighting cancer.

"I felt a little lost because we were so young and didn't know anybody that had (gone) through cancer. He was diagnosed at 32," she said. "I felt alone. If I had known there were resources like that, I would have been able to get help."

It was Nichols' sister, Karen (Hughes) Ventimiglia, who founded the relay team and serves as its captain. She, too, is a 1996 OHS graduate and she now lives in Lake Orion.

"She was my rock during Randy's diagnosis. Especially the second time," Nichols said. "She sat with me through almost every chemo treatment. I wouldn't have stayed sane without her."

This will be Hope Kills Cancer's fourth time participating in the Oxford/Lake Orion Relay for Life.

"In 2011, we won the rookie team of the year award," Nichols said.

During the team's first three years combined, it raised more than $15,000. This year, the goal is to raise $10,000, according to Nichols.