Preparing for Relay for Life


Though months away, local supporters are getting ready for the 24 hour walk to show that those fighting cancer are not alone.

By Mary O’Keefe

There is a variety of reactions when a person hears their doctor say, “I found a lump.” Some panic, some pray and others wait calmly for the other shoe to drop. Cancer does not just penetrate a person’s body but weaves itself into the fabric of their entire life. It can be a lonely disease with much of the time spent in a doctor’s examine room and hospitals. Several studies have been conducted concerning the relationship between the disease and a patient’s mental attitude. These studies have shown that laughter, support and fighting back may not cure cancer, but it can make it a little easier for a person to bear.

On May 15 and 16, 2010 at Clark Magnet High School hundreds of people will participate in Relay for Life. Teams will walk around the makeshift track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to make a statement that those with this dreaded disease do not walk alone.

“This is one of the biggest fund raisers in the nation and it is the biggest for the American Cancer Society,” said Lisa Cleary, spokeswoman for Relay for Life.

The event began in 1985 when a doctor in Tacoma, Wash. walked around a local track for 24 hours to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Since then, according to the ACS website, over 5,000 communities across the United States participate annually in Relay for Life.

“There are 75 [events] in the Los Angeles region. It is a community event,” Cleary said.

The Relay For Life of the Foothills embodies that community feeling with so many representatives of Crescenta Valley and La Cañada walking the track. In teams of 10 or more they bring tents, Frisbees, food

and friends to Clark. Familiar and new faces can be seen circling the track.

Teens from the high schools, parents, grandparents and community leaders all walk – maybe not at the same pace – but for the same purpose.

“It is not only to raise funds but to raise awareness,” Cleary said.

Unfortunately cancer has touched almost everyone’s life in one form or another. The relay is a 24 hour event because cancer never sleeps, she said.

Although the event is not for several months, teams are already forming and signing up online now. There is a fee to participate, which also goes toward the American Cancer Society.

Time is running out for the early bird registration so teams should sign up soon, Cleary advised.

To qualify for early bird registration, teams must have their $50 fee

submitted by Dec. 31. After that date the fee goes up to $150.

Once a team is registered its name is added to the ACS website. Those who wish to donate simply go to the site and search for their city, then their team and enter an amount.

“People can be as creative as they want to be by sending out e-mails to friends and families or mass e-mails. Some teams have had fund raisers at local restaurants and others have had bake sales,” Cleary said.

The bottom line is that for 24 hours those who have survived cancer, those fighting cancer and those whose loved ones lost their fight can join together as a positive force to raise awareness, to put financial power behind research and, as a community, bond by neighbor helping neighbor.

For those who want to start a team or to support a team visit the website