More than 300 luminarias lit the Skyview High School track as cancer patients, survivors and others walked for a worthwhile cause.
The second annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life came to an end at 6 p.m. Saturday with more than 40 paying teams participating to raise money for cancer research and other support services.
Kathy Lopeman, the general chairperson of the relay, who also is an oncology nurse at Central Peninsula General Hospital, said the goal set for the 24-hour event was $50,000. As of Saturday evening, after the fund raiser, donations exceeded the goal.
"It is so exciting," she said. "It is really neat."
Because donations are still being received, the total amount will not be final until June 13, when a relay wrap-up meeting will be held and the third annual relay will be planned.
A "star of hope" quilt also is being auctioned off, with its proceeds being added to the final relay total.
Men and women of all ages walked the length of the track, some with the help of wheelchairs and walkers. The youngest participant was 3-month-old David Mitchell, son of Dr. Kristin Mitchell, of Kasilof, while the eldest walker was 96-year-old Esther Peteet, of Kenai.
At least one person from each team walked for an hour for a total of 24 hours. Teams ranged from one person to up to 30 participants.
At 3 a.m. Saturday, Lopeman said there was 54 people walking at their own pace.
"They were out there for other people," Lopeman said, commenting on the selflessness of the participants.
"It becomes sort of one big giant family when everyone gets out there," she said.
Both Dan English, 64, and Jessie Sutton, 17, walked, as planned, the full 24 hours of the relay, Lopeman said.
Rhonda Baisden, vice chair of the relay, said the highest team fund-raiser was Connor's Walkers, who raised $4,293, with the Heart and Sole of Kenai in second with $2,100.
"It was a great turnout. Everybody had a good time that was there," Baisden said. "We're real happy. It was a great event."
This year's totals exceed the amount raised last year -- $39,000 -- which was raised by 43 teams.
"One more team, but lots more money," Lopeman said.
Funds raised from the event will benefit both cancer patients and research.
Designated for the entire state, 52 percent of the money raised will be used for cancer support services, including, but not limited to, transportation for patients; patient education; ostomy supplies for colon cancer patients; an ostomy nurse who makes home visits; a cancer support group that meets at the hospital twice a month; and Reach to Recovery, a program administered by the American Cancer Society with three trained breast cancer survivors who visit and help newly diagnosed cancer patients and those with recent surgeries.
Another 38 percent of the funds will go to nationwide cancer research.
Lopeman said she appreciates the community participation.
"I thank everyone for joining in the community fight for cancer," she said.
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