By Geghard ARAKELIAN
Members of the community prepare to hold the annual Foothills Relay For Life on May 18; a 24 hour walkathon that commemorates those who have died from cancer and encourages those who struggle with the disease to fight on.
“Relay For Life is a community event where you can celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember those who have lost the battle and make a commitment to fight against cancer by making changes in your daily living,” said Chris Waldheim, a coordinator of the event.
The walkathon will be held at Clark Magnet High School in the 4700 block of New York Avenue and will begin on Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m. and continue through the night.
“Most people walk on a team, but that is not required and everyone is welcome at the event,” said Waldheim. “This is our tenth year, so we’ll have some surprises to commemorate this special year.”
The 24-hour event will include several ceremonies. For instance, at 9 a.m. the event opens with the Survivors Lap.
“The first lap is reserved for survivors and their caretakers and family,” said Waldheim.
The Luminaria ceremony is at 9 p.m. when all participating members walk on the track together.
“We walk the track as a community with the light from the personalized Luminaria bags shining the way. The track swells with emotion,” said Waldheim.
At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, “We hold the Fight Back ceremony. [We] announce the [monetary] results from the event and take a final lap together before closing down the event until 2011,” said Waldheim.
For event coordinators, the walkathon is not just an opportunity for community members to get together. It is a means of raising awareness about the devastating effects of cancer.
“We started this event to try and bring the community together with a common goal in mind, ending the scourge of cancer,” said Waldheim. “Over the last decade, we have heard heart-wrenching stories of loss and inspirational stories from survivors.”
According to Waldheim some cancer stricken participants who took part in previous events have passed away due to their medical condition and “almost every walker has a story about how their life has been touched by cancer.”
The Foothills Relay for Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Thus far 30 teams are scheduled to be present at the event and some volunteers may even walk for a 24-hour cycle by themselves.
“We all have family, friends and co-workers affected [by cancer]. This is how we let them know that they matter and we remember,” said Waldheim.
For more information visit www.FoothillsRelayForLife.com.