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American Cancer Society Relay for Life Raises Money for Research, Education

Teams participate in Relay for Life.jpg

Step by step, approximately 100 people walked around a makeshift track on a recent Saturday to show cancer who is boss.

At the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, cancer survivors participated in the first lap, walking to “Fight Song” and “I’m a Survivor.” Caregivers joined in for the second lap. By the end, everyone walked together.

The American Cancer Society, for the fourth consecutive year, held its annual Relay for Life Southern Montgomery County event at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. (JHU is among the event sponsors.) The event brought together cancer survivors, their families, community members and others who wanted to show their support in the battle against the disease.

The theme this year was “Superheroes of Hope.”

The event began with a cancer survivor and caregiver reception. One speaker talked about the need for increased cancer research funding in the federal budget, and urged attendees to speak with their elected representatives.

Event lead Nikki Miller spoke on behalf of caregivers, explaining that her mother is a cancer survivor and just last week her father rang the chemotherapy bell after his recent bout with gallbladder cancer. (Cancer patients often ring a bell to commemorate their completion of chemotherapy treatments.)

“Cancer is not something that has touched my body but has touched my heart,” Miller said.

Relay for Life is a team-based event, with teams raising money for cancer research, education, prevention efforts and programs to help cancer patients and their caregivers. Nationally, Relay for Life events raise a combined $400 million annually.

The event at JHU raised about $67,000.

The relay started at noon and ended around midnight, symbolizing that cancer never sleeps. At dark, a luminaria ceremony was held, with candles illuminating white bags in honor and memory of those who have been touched by cancer.

“The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical effects, emotions and mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment,” said Richard Pante, staff partner for the American Cancer Society.

Bonnie Tarone, of Rockville, is a five-year breast cancer survivor. She attended the event wearing a sign pinned to the back of her Relay for Life T-shirt that listed the names of five people she knows who currently are receiving cancer treatment. She planned to give the T-shirt itself to a longtime friend who is currently battling the disease.

Tarone enthusiastically high-fived people as they completed laps during the relay. “It’s important to have a cheering section around you,” she said.

Relay for Life began in Tacoma, Wash., in 1986 and is now an international fundraising movement, with events in 5,000 communities in 20 countries. This year marked the 22nd year for Relay for Life of Southern Montgomery County (formerly Relay for Life of Rockville).

CATEGORY: In The Community