BY KATIE MIKESKA
How many people can you think of who are in recovery from, in treatment for, or have fallen victim to cancer? Every day someone is fighting the Big Fight, whether that be in a hospital, at home or on the field.
Relay For Life is a group of those someones. Relay is a signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in thousands of communities and 27 countries. Volunteers give their time and effort because they believe it’s time to take action in the fight against cancer.
These events help to bring communities together to remember loved ones lost, honor survivors of all cancers and raise money to help the American Cancer Society make a global impact on cancer.The Relay For Life at Latrobe Memorial Stadium was held on Saturday, June 16 through Sunday June 17. The 24-hour walk this year marked its 25th Anniversary Celebration that began with an opening Ceremony that honors everyone who’s been affected by cancer and everyone who has contributed to the success of this year’s Relay season.
The many activities that were held throughout the day displayed the collaborative effort of the Latrobe community. The teams, supporters, volunteers and vendors came together to demonstrate the spirit of this beautiful town. Creatively-themed display booths lined the stadium filled with fun characters and quirky challenges along with emotional representations of hope, comfort and courage.
Some main events consisted of the Survivor/Caregiver walk and is the heart and soul of Relay For Life events that honors their strength and courage with every step they take. The Luminaire Ceremony is a breathtaking tradition that represents all those effected by cancer. Each light represents a life—a life taken by cancer, a survivor of cancer, or support for a person still fighting the disease. It’s a powerful demonstration that gives people the opportunity to grieve but also offers comfort and hope. The closing ceremony affirms the time committed to take action and help lead the fight for a world free from cancer. It’s a time to celebrate what has been accomplished together and a time to unify for the work that needs to be done moving forward.
If you have never attended an event like this before, it can be life changing. The gratitude of friends, family and caregivers becomes obvious while speaking with the attendees. One recount shared was especially impacting, “This was the first cancer event I have attended in over a decade. I was a caregiver and unfortunately not all stories have a happy ending, so I avoided all things that could trigger painful memories. This year I attended and much to my own surprise, I’m glad I did. I had forgotten some of the things I had learned during the fight. The biggest being that I was not alone. Others have been where I’ve been or they are living it now. They understand things that a lot of people would not. They are willing to share, help and hope. The defining moment for me was the luminary ceremony. I watched as all of them were lit it seemed like thousands. I listened for the names of those I lost. As I looked across the field and saw the message that this event is all about, HOPE. Hope that one day there will be fewer names added to the list of “in memory of” a hope for a cancer free future.” -Anonymous
Yinzer Magazine would like to give a special thank you to the event coordinators for allowing us the privilege to attend such a wonderful display of unity in the fight against Cancer! Thank you to Julie Teslevich and Theresa Kennicutt, Event Co-Chairs. Billy Slezak and Maria Peluso, Event Advisory Team. Dianne Ostop and Maria Survivor, Program Co-Chairs. Deb Wnek Luminaria, Program Chair.With great thanks to your fundraising efforts for Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society is always ready to help and give support through difficult times by providing a free 24/7 cancer help line available at 1-800-227-2345.
For more information and photos from this event you can visit www.relayforlife.org/palatrobe or on Facebook at Latrobe Relay For Life.