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May 27, 2009 > Relay celebrates life

Relay celebrates life

By Suzanne Ortt

Celebrate. Remember. Fight back

These key words underscore the American Cancer Society's signature event: Relay for Life. For the unfamiliar, it is a 24-hour event in which teams of 8 to 12 persons continuously circle a track to raise funds. One member of each group is on the track at all times, symbolizing that cancer never sleeps.

Participants seek donations from family, friends and coworkers. Teams camp out at designated sites, so it can be a mini-vacation. Entertainment, music, games, and food are on tap.

Fundraising is one purpose, but not the only one. The occasion provides hope, comfort, strength, and healing. Information is readily available. Proactive steps for preventing cancer are an essential part of the proceedings. Sharing stories also is a vital part of Relay for Life.

Kary Loredo-Welch, chairperson of the Hayward event, shares her story. When daughter Amelia was 4 years old her grandparents died of cancer five months apart. Three years ago Amelia wrote a one-page essay for school, My Greatest Wish. Her wish was that no one ever died from cancer.

This piqued Kary's interest. She asked about community events related to cancer and discovered Relay for Life. This is her second year of chairing the family friendly weekend in Hayward. Now 14, Amelia is chairing the luminaria committee in Newark.

One highlight of Relay for Life is the opening Survivors Lap. Then when the sun goes down, a Ceremony of Hope is held. Luminarias are lighted as tributes for all who have experienced cancer in their lives.

Studies show one in three persons will be diagnosed with cancer during his lifetime. Relay donations fund cutting-edge cancer research, early detection and prevention education, advocacy efforts, and life-affirming patient services. The benefit covers all cancers. Volunteers are always welcome. Keep in mind, there is a place for all at Relay.

2009 is the 25th anniversary of Relay for Life. Kary believes, "One person can do things. A group can change things." Fight back, become involved, help make a change.

Local Relay for Life schedule:

Sat., May 30 - Sun., May 31
Moreau Catholic High School
27170 Mission Blvd., Hayward or (510) 862-0987

Fri., June 19 - Sat. June 20
Milpitas Sports Center
1325 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas or (408)871-1062

Sat., June 27 - Sun., June 28
California School for the Deaf
39350 Gallaudet Dr., Fremont or (925)833-2784

Sat., July 18 - Sun., July 19
Newark Jr. High School
6201 Lafayette Ave., Newark or (925)833-2784

Union City
Sat., Aug. 8 - Sun., Aug. 9
James Logan High School
1800 H Street, Union City or (925)833-2784

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