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Relay For Life: a message of hope


Last updated 6/7/2007 at Noon

Last weekend, June 2 and 3, the scene at Fallbrook High School’s stadium track proved to be emotional for cancer survivors, and for those who were walking in memory of someone close to their hearts at the Relay For Life event. It was a touching time during which people were found holding hands, hugging one another, wiping their tears and smiling from their inner strength.

“This relay holds a different meaning for everybody,” said Erin Walker, team recruitment chairperson. “I relay because both of my parents are cancer survivors.”

While Walker relayed for her parents, many survivors walked proudly wearing their Relay For Life purple t-shirts. They shared their personal statements as to why this day meant so much to them.

“It’s all about making people aware of what’s going on with cancer,” said Ted Plautz, a three-and-a-half-year cancer survivor. Getting people involved is of the utmost importance to Plautz.

Marlene Sudomir, who will be facing breast cancer surgery in the days ahead, mentioned how the presence of so many caring and loving people gave hope to individuals with cancer.

“It’s an encouragement to all the survivors,” remarked Sudomir.

Rose Marie Peralta, a 10-year cancer survivor, believed that Relay For Life was a day that “means hope, faith and renewal.”

Prior to the “survivor first lap of courage,” the release of white doves warmed the hearts of so many. The vision of these birds in flight was both beautiful and inspiring. When the survivors padded along the track, applause and cheers followed their every step.

This year marks the fourth Fallbrook Relay For Life event. Last year, it raised $12,000; this year, the hope was to raise $30,000.

“We have 600 participants this year and there are 30 relay teams,” said Walker.

Walker explained that each individual team has a team captain or co-captain. The captains are the ones responsible for gathering their teams, facilitating fundraisers and planning track schedules. The Relay For Life goal is that designated members from each team must be scheduled so that one member is walking around the track at all times during the 24-hour period.

Relay For Life, the largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, has been in existence for the last 22 years. Last year, it raised $375 million.

“These funds are very much needed, since all donations to the American Cancer Society are from private parties,” said Wanda Reidmuller, event chair.

At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 3, the Luminaria Ceremony was a breathtaking sight. While people stood in place, the lights at the field were shut down so all could view more than 500 illuminated bags laced along the track and on the bleachers.

“Each bag represents a person who is lost, remembered, honored, or hopefully, present,” mentioned Walker. On these bleachers, the luminaria spelled out the word “HOPE.”

“That is the reason why we are here in the community,” Walker added. “It is to provide people with hope.”


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