Relay for Life moves indoors, exceeds fundraising goal

Sunday, April 25, 2010
Cancer survivors take a lap Saturday in the Arena Building to kick off the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. (Fred Lynch)

As a result of sporadic rainfall Saturday, the annual Relay for Life event took place inside the Arena Building this year.

"Cancer doesn't cancel due to weather, and neither will the Relay for Life," said Craig Bohnsack, accounting chairman for Relay for Life.

The Relay for Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society and to help it carry out its mission to find a cure for cancer, a disease more than 11 million Americans have been diagnosed with. Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis among women, and prostate cancer is the primary cancer diagnosis among men. Both genders are diagnosed fairly equally with other cancers like melanoma or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Virtually everyone, in one capacity or another, is affected by cancer," said Sue Mardabanks, team captain of Marathon Benefits Group. She said several people she worked with dealt with cancer directly or indirectly and that she and her teammates were attending the event to show support.

The Cougars for a Cure was another of 52 teams participating in the relay. All the members of the team were third-graders from St. Augustine school in Kelso, Mo. Their teacher, Cindy LeGrand, was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.

"To find out you have cancer is devastating, but to find out all these people ... that everyone here wants to help is the most wonderful feeling," she said.

LeGrand said four teachers at St. Augustine have cancer, and 11 of her 17 students have a relative who has struggled with or died from cancer.

"This year in Cape County there are 322 people diagnosed with cancer," said Danielle McGuire, community manager of development with the American Cancer Society. "That's one of the reasons why events like this are so important, because the American Cancer Society is second only to the government in terms of how much financial contribution is given towards research for a cure."

During the relay, which began at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, teams of up to 15 people walked or ran around a track all night, with team members switching out at various intervals so that one member from the team was present on the track at any given time until the event concluded at 5 a.m. today.

The goal for the relay was $156,000, but by 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the event had already topped $176,000. Bohnsack said he was confident the event could raise $180,000 or more.

Pat Myer, a breast cancer survivor and team captain for Mary and Pat's Friends -- which raised more than $25,000 -- wore a purple "Survivor" shirt that was worn by everyone at the event who has been diagnosed with cancer. The back reads "Happy Birthday is a victory song."

"Cancer is a fight that can be won," she said.

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