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Relay for Life Friday and Saturday

by Susie Vasquez

Relay for Life, a fund-raiser to benefit local programs for cancer patients, starts Friday evening at Carson High School’s track facility.

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, this all-night event features food, music, games and demonstrations from 5 p.m. Friday evening until 8 a.m. Saturday.

“We start Friday with a dinner honoring all cancer survivors,” said Carol Graves, staff assistant at the American Cancer Society. “After dinner, they do the first lap. It’s an emotional thing to see those survivors, from the young to the old, circle the track.”

The lap walk starts at 6 p.m. and team walkers from businesses, churches, schools, and family groups join cancer survivors for this extended relay with alternating shifts.

“Someone from your team has to be on track at all times, around the clock,” Graves said. “Walkers participate all through the night and day.”

Oncologist Dr. Gordon Klatt of Seattle initiated the event in 1985 when he staged his own solo event. He walked alone for 18 hours, earning money for the cause along the way, and the event has mushroomed.

Officials at the American Cancer Society are expecting about 300 people at Friday’s event, which should raise about $35,000.

Money from the event goes to local patients for everything from wigs to counseling services and nutritional supplements.

“There are a lot of things we do directly for people in the community, like taking patients in for treatments if they don’t have a way to get there,” Graves said.

The overnight event includes a luminary ceremony at 9 p.m. Friday. Bags can be purchased in honor or in memory of an individual for a $10 donation. Each bag is lit and placed around the track as teams walk a lap in silence.

Some teams are sponsoring a number of games and booths, including a cake walk and dunk tank and the band “Back in Time” will perform those old time rock-n-roll tunes at the track after the opening ceremony.

The dinner is free to any cancer survivor who would like to attend and the public is welcome. Cost for the dinner is $3 per person. For more information call the American Cancer Society at 329-0609.