The second annual American Cancer Society “Relay for Life” took place in the city of Lake Forest at El Toro High School on Sept. 29 and 30. Volunteers and cancer survivors themselves around the community “relayed” on each other by taking turns circling the track for 24 hours.
The ceremony began with the opening laps and the white doves’ flight into the air, while names of victims whose lives have been taken and survivors of cancer were read.
The event began in 1985 when Dr. Klatt circled the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Since then, people across the country have come together to raise awareness and help fight cancer.
This event raised $27 thousand last year through charity and donations, and plans to exceed that amount this year.
There are 500 relays across the country, 300 of them are hosted in California, 26 of those being in Orange County, according to Breanna Weeks, a volunteer at the event.
Bill Levegood, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 1989, has been participating in the relay for nine years. He has had two bone marrow transplants, but is currently in remission.
“The best thing about this is I’m still alive,” Levegood said. “There are angels watching over me, because most people I know have passed away. My kids were one, two, and four when I was first diagnosed.”
Also participating in the event was Datt Sprimont, a breast cancer survivor who has completed chemotherapy and is almost done with radiation.
“It’s been a year and a half; I’ve learned to appreciate each day, and not to wait to tell people how much I love them,” Sprimont said. “My faith is incredibly important and my friends are more amazing then I ever knew.”
For her third year in the event, 73-year-old and 30 year survivor Julie Bath wrote a poem called ‘Love is a Healing Balm.’ Bath writes not only from a survivors prospective but also as a volunteer, and expresses her faith and willing power to fight the illness.
“It gives me a better prospective to be a volunteer,” Bath said. “People say hope is encouraging, but with out the help of family and friends, hope is nothing.”
Chair of the event Mark Tettermer got involved after his mother survived through eight years of brain cancer. Tettermer was excited with the amount of time and effort people donated to prepare and follow through with the event.
“It is a lot of fun,” Tettermer said. “I’ve met a lot of great people throughout the event that make it a lot of fun for us volunteers.”
Those interested in joining should contact Breanna Weeks of the American Cancer Society at (949) 567-0636. Additional information can be found at at www.cancer.org.