The annual 24-hour event hopes to raise awareness of – and dollars for – the fight against cancer.
By Brandon HENSLEY
The saying is all too familiar: almost everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by cancer. Every day, the fight for a cure continues.
Every year, the American Cancer Society holds Relay for Life.
On April 11, the field at Clark Magnet High School will once again be a host for Relay for Life, a 24-hour fundraiser dedicated to raising money and support for the American Cancer Society.
“It is a terrible disease,” said Mary O’Keefe, one of the co-chairs of the event. “For those fighting cancer and for those of us who have had to stand and helplessly watch a loved one deal with their diagnosis is heartbreaking.”
At Relay for Life, team members sign up to spend 24 hours making sure that a member of their team is always walking the track. The 24 hours symbolize how cancer never sleeps, and neither do the efforts to fight the disease.
Team members arrive either Friday night or early Saturday morning. They can bring a tent, sleeping bag and pillow so they can spend the night. Each team can also bring a pop-up tent that they decorate, and people can buy items that are sold at pop-up tents.
People can sport specific attire to raise money for different types of cancer. For example, the Prom Plus Club team of Crescenta Valley High School fights breast cancer. The team decorates its booth with all types of bras, and team members, even the boys, strap on a bra over their clothes and then walk the track.
Joining O’Keefe as co-chair this year will be Robin Goldsworthy, publisher of the CV Weekly. The theme this year is Celebrating Survivors and Caring for the Caregivers.
“Both Robin and I have been caregivers for family members and friends, which is why we wanted to create a booth for those who care, and have cared, for those with cancer,” O’Keefe said.
The Relay for Life of Foothills held its kick-off in Montrose in early March. The kick off included members of Prom Plus Club sharing why they participate in the annual Relay event. Many said they joined Relay for Life because they knew someone who had cancer or who had passed from cancer. After sharing their stories, they held lit glow sticks and signs and walked the 2100 and 2200 blocks of Honolulu Avenue.
“There has been a lot of progress in learning what causes some cancers, prevention and treatment but there is a lot more to learn,” O’Keefe said. “We are hoping that Foothills Relay for Life will continue this discussion and help those who have cancer and their caregivers see that they are not alone.”
O’Keefe said they are hoping to “pack the track” with as many people as possible this year.
Goldsworthy added that while the importance of packing the track and raising awareness of cancer prevention should not be ignored, the April 11-12 event is ultimately a fundraiser.
“All the good wishes won’t bring back our loved ones,” said Goldsworthy, who lost her mother to lung and brain cancer in 1996 and her father-in-law to renal cancer in 1989. “We need to fight not only with our feet on the track but the dollars in our wallets.”
To join or make a donation, go to www.relayforlife.org, enter the 91214 zip code, click on Relay for Life of Foothills and start a team or join a team. O’Keefe said if someone would like to start a team but cannot be there all 24 hours, Prom Plus Club kids will assign someone to that team who will continue their presence on the track.