Celebrate. Remember. Fight back. These words of the American Cancer Society were expressed Saturday through a 24 hour event called that encompassed their powerful meanings.
The relay was held at on the front lawn. Shaded by trees, the path wound through 38 booths that doubled as campsites; each selling a different item or service to fundraise for the ACS.
In addition to the $100 required per team member, services such as face painting, nail painting, and henna were offered; as well as items like smoothies, churros and jewelry. Relay for Life was a great way to not only promote businesses, but to raise money for a cause at the same time.
As the day progressed, I watched as the community came together to fight a disease that has touched and damaged the lives of many around Redwood City and San Carlos. We all had one common goal at relay: to raise money and awareness about cancer. This goal was achieved when Relay for Life raised approximately 88,000 dollars for the ACS.
Cancer never sleeps, and neither did the dedicated Relay participants. Relayers were encouraged to walk, run, or longboard laps for the entire 24 hours.
That night, as the luminaria bags filled with candles were lit surrounding the path, the survivors lead everybody in a lap to honor those who had passed during their battle with cancer.
Looking at the bags glowing around the track, I saw each one as a miniature memorial to somebody whose life had been touched by the disease, and I remembered.
I remembered those who I had known personally who battled cancer. Some, survivors like my mother; and others, not so fortunate. I remembered their struggles and the joyful memories that we shared and finally, I remembered why I keep these individuals close to my heart: for their strength and perseverance, qualities which I greatly admire.
Upon the end of the lap, nearing once again the lively booths and main stretch of track, I celebrated. I heard people talking, laughing, children playing, ukuleles and guitars being harmoniously strummed.
This was the sound of happiness. The sound of celebration.
Tears dried, and friends hugged as we celebrated the lives of those who fought, who were immensely loved and who made an impact on us. We celebrated as a community and as the sounds of the ceremony echoed throughout Redwood City, we showed cancer that we could fight back. That we can beat the sorrow it brings, and rise above the emptiness from the many lives that the disease has claimed.
Celebrate. Remember. Fight back. Relay for life portrayed these words in their entirety.