ANTIGO — Camree Powell is fueling her passion — the fight against cancer — with her love for animals and the Langlade County Fair.
At this year’s just-completed summer exposition, Powell sold a market hog and a bronze turkey for over $1,000, with the money earmarked for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life this weekend in Antigo.
It marks the fifth year, Powell, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish, has donated her fair proceeds to Relay for Life. This year’s donation propels her personal total past $3,000, not including all the money she has raised from other sources.
It is, she says, all a reflection of her Catholic upbringing and the need for continued research into the scourge that is cancer.
“God didn’t put us on earth to have this good, perfect life,” said Powell, 17. “We have been given free will and there are good things and bad things that happen and cancer is one of the worst. We need to do our best to make it as good as possible as we can on earth, so that someday we can be in that truly perfect place.”
Powell, the daughter of Jamee Doucette of Deerbrook, has strong personal ties to the American Cancer Society. Her great-grandmother battled leukemia and lymphoma three times, succumbing in 2014. Other relatives and friends have also faced the disease in its various forms, she said.
“Cancer has hit my family very hard and has hit very close to home,” she said. “I think if you ask most people, they will tell you they know someone who has faced the disease. It’s something we all have to fight.”
For Powell, 4-H, selling her market animals at the fair and Relay for Life have always gone hand in hand.
She became involved in the cancer fundraiser when her club, the Deerbrook Eager Beavers, hosted a Relay team. She then moved on to Jill Lewandowski’s Hands With Heart crew before forming her own group.
A key part has always been donating 4-H fair animal sale proceeds.
“I really encourage youth to try the pig project at the fair,” she said. “It teaches the responsibility of raising an animal and it’s amazing the pride you feel after working with it and bringing it to the fair.”
Powell always has a theme for her pigs. They have included “Wilma and Betty: The Original Housewives of Bedrock,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and this year, “Donald and Melania: We’re Making Bacon Great Again.”
“The first year I sold my pig I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to give to Relay,” she said. “I decided $500 would be a good amount to do. I’ve continued that regardless of what my pig sells for. … If it didn’t bring in $500 I would cover the difference myself.”
So far, that hasn’t been a problem — although some years have been tight.
“God put these animals on earth for us to use and to take care of,” she said. “We are their stewards. We give them a good quality feed and a good quality of life and in return, we get a good product that we can use and share.”
Her team, known as Camree’s Cancer Crushers, raised $1,948 for Relay in its first year and $5,841 in 2017, posting the highest percentage gain among participants and earning her a special plaque.
“I want to blow my total out of the water every year,” Powell said, and she’s on her way to doing it through the fair and other Relay fundraisers across the year, including meat and gun raffles.
When she turns in that big check at this year’s Relay, she knows it will be happening with help from her animals and through the Lord.
“Everything ties together: raising the animals, using them for Relay. They are beautiful creatures,” she said. “And I always have that hope in me that they will find a cure for cancer, otherwise there would be no reason to do it. That hope, through God, is always there.”