From six o’ clock in the evening on March 30th till six a.m. in the morning on the 31st, thirty-four teams walked the track at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds to be a part of Relay For Life, which aims to raise money to stamp out cancer.
Included were teams that represented local interests such as HJM Elementary, Memorial Medical Center and Church of Christ.
Participants camped out near the track’s circle, with at least one team member walking the track for the duration of the event. When not on the track, team members talked, bought food from the various team vendors around the outside of the track and shared the camaraderie of coming together against the common foe of cancer.
Behind each team is a special story about how cancer touched the lives of the team’s members and inspired them to do something about it.
For example the team Perpetual Motion out of Port O’ Connor, who according to team leader Judith Bowman, began their efforts when cancer struck her great aunt. That event inspired Judith and other residents of Port O’ Connor to make the effort to enter a team every year.
Memorial Medical Center’s Matthew Boyle says that the hospital participates in the Relay for the same reason the hospital exists: to save lives.
“(We are here) to raise money for cancer research and to get our name out there…to show we are supporting the community…even in their hardest of times.”
Meanwhile the team Pink For Cindy comes to the relay in tribute to the memory of Cindy Vasquez, who passed away from breast cancer three years ago. So now various friends and family, including Cindy’s daughter-in-law, Audie Vasquez, take part in the relay in her name.
“She was like a mother to me” Vasquez said. “I feel it’s very important to keep her spirit alive so that way we can remember her.”
Another team, The Believers, chose to express that ‘cancer can’t take the joy out of life’.
To show this, The Believers dressed as clowns and performed several magic shows during the relay. They also handed out balloons animals to the kids. Team spokesperson Laura Rodriguez says this is all for her niece and her two brothers who are all cancer survivors, an example of some of the courage and hope on display.
“We dressed as clowns to show that you can still have joy in your life when there is cancer in your family.” Rodriguez stated.
As for the stamina and resilience needed to keep team’s walking for twelve hours straight. Rodriguez’s answer seemed to also sum up the common thread about all who participated in this years Relay For Life and their stance against cancer:
“We stay out here all night long…we will not leave.”
Relay For Life is reported to have raised over eighty five thousand dollars for cancer research with their efforts.