Hedrick continuing to serve -- as focal point of Relay for Life team

Greg Hedrick.
Photo provided.

Five days after being diagnosed with lung cancer, lifelong Huntington resident Greg Hedrick died on the eve of his 59th birthday - March 6, 2010.

Now just three months later, he has become the focal point of Cops Cuffin' Cancer, a team in this year's Huntington Relay for Life.

The team is made up of Huntington Police Department officers - active and reserve - and their wives, dispatchers and the department's secretary for a total of 17 members, explains team captain and Huntington Detective Matt Hughes.

"I've had cancer affect my family," Hughes says.

His grandmother and grandfather on his mother's side were both diagnosed and died of cancer. His mother was in high school when her mother fell victim, so Hughes says he never got to meet his grandmother.

"That helped with part of the reason why I wanted to do this team, it is kind of a personal thing with me that when Greg did pass away, it hit home," he says.

Hedrick, a 1969 graduate of Huntington North High School, served over 34 years as a Huntington police officer after graduating from the academy in 1975.

"Greg was very involved with the Police Athletic League," Hughes says. "He was actually my Little League coach. When I played, I played with his daughter [Amy Moreland] out there, which is another reason that I really wanted to get this going, for him (and) for her," he adds, explaining that Moreland coached with her father and now has her kids playing at the PAL.

Moreland's first Relay was in 2001, a year after her father's sister died from cancer at 46 years old. With the recent death of her father, she says at this year's relay she feels her efforts can be "renewed."

She adds that even though she can't do anything about what cancer has done to her family Relay for Life makes her feel like she can do something.

This year's Relay theme is, "A world with less cancer is a world with more birthdays," and Hedrick died just before his birthday. To add to irony, Abby Hedrick, another Relay team captain and Moreland's sister, has a birthday the weekend of Relay.

"It's crazy the way it all came together," Moreland says.
Hedrick's party was already scheduled on March 7, so his family went through with it and met just like they planned, Moreland adds.

Hedrick owned Hedrick's Eagle Excavating and through this company he was able to do projects for the PAL's baseball and football programs. He was also a presence on the HPD.

Being a captain, Hedrick was "a strong figure in the police department, somebody that everybody looked up to and listened to," Hughes recalls. "When Greg spoke, everybody listened. That was one of his best characteristics."

To Hughes, this year's Relay is a way to remember Hedrick, as well as a way for the department to get more involved in the community. He says it shows that they are supportive of one of their own and of the community, and want to help out in any way.

Team members are doing their own fundraising, but the club Hedrick once cared for is also giving back. Hughes says the PAL has set aside 10 percent of its concession profits to go towards the efforts of Cops Cuffin' Cancer.

During the Relay on June 12 and 13, the team will also wear special shirts to recognize Hedrick.

For more information on this year's Huntington Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/huntingtoncountyin.