Participants in the Relay for Life of the Central Peninsula cancer awareness walk pass a bag decorated by Madeleine Michaud. "I made a luminary bag for my grandpa because he has cancer and is struggling really hard with it," she said. More than 700 bags representing cancer victims lined the track at Skyview High School for the annual event.
Photos by M. Scott Moon
While some may find it difficult to understand the association between cancer and a weekend of full festivities, this weekend’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Skyview High School made it very clear.
“People think coming here will be depressing, but once you come you see it’s not depressing. It’s uplifting and you leave getting so much more out of it than you put in,” said Debbie Clonan, captain of the Sensational Sterling Superstars, a fundraising team participating in the relay event. Clonan is also battling cancer.
The relay event features 24 hours of live music, games and food, but there was also an important purpose at the core of the event besides.
“This event is to raise funds for cancer research and education, and do it at a community level,” said Susan Smalley, one of the organizers of the event and a cancer survivor herself.
Last year’s event raised more than $67,000 in lifesaving funds, and by midmorning Saturday Smalley said she thought they were well on their way to this year’s goal of raising $75,000.
The main part of the event was the relay itself, in which approximately 75-100 survivors started things off on the Skyview High School track by taking part in the survivors’ victory lap.
Becky Sanford poses in an Elvis cutout for her twin sister Trina (not pictured). Some participants erected tents to rest in and games to play during the event.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Smalley said their courage and strength helps the community see that surviving cancer is possible, and that progress is being made in the fight against cancer.
Following the survivors’ lap, individuals and teams took turns walking or running around the track throughout the night.
“Basically, we have at least one person covering every hour, so someone’s always on the track,” said Angela Hinnegan, caption of the Central Peninsula General Hospital team.
As to why they run through the night, the answer was simple because cancer never sleeps.
Once the sun went down, roughly 1,000 luminaries surrounding the track lighted the way and, according to Smalley, “served to remember those lost to cancer, those fighting cancer and those who have fought cancer and won.”
The Relay For Life has become a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, with more than 3 million participants expected to walk nationwide.
Debbie Clonan said it is wonderful that so many people participate or attend the relay because of how much information about cancer is available during the event.
“Statistically, someone walking around here has cancer and doesn’t know it. But, this brings it to the forefront of people’s minds, so maybe, from this event, they’ll decide to get screened and it’ll save their life,” she said.
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