By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – The City Council approved the Great Lakes Chapter May 20 and 21 Relay for Life, held annually at Young Patriots Park, 14300 Sibley Road., sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
The group, which uses the walking track encircling the pond southeast of Riverview Memorial Library, helps conquer cancer by raising awareness and money for better treatments and cures. Live entertainment, a silent auction, food, fun and reflection, as well as participant camaraderie are key components of the relay’s success.
As an ACS fundraiser, Relay for Life is held worldwide, organized and run by local volunteers.
Cancer survivors walk the first lap, followed by a lap for all participants. Cancer survivors are defined by the ACS as anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, whether they are symptom free or still fighting it.
Luminary and candlelight vigils held at the close of the relay remembers those lost to cancer, and honors survivors. The closing ceremony recognizes team achievements, and encourages participants to take specific steps to spread awareness of cancer prevention, treatments and research.
Event leadership team member Jody Slavin of Riverview, a thyroid cancer survivor, said in 2016 that each relay is an emotional time for her.
“I speak during some of the ceremonies, and try to hold my emotions together, because cancer has touched everybody,” Slavin said. “Everybody’s lost someone, everybody knows someone who’s fighting the battle.”
When asking for pledges, Slavin tells potential donors that Relay for Life volunteers are trying to “finish the fight.”
“We want to do our part to bring an end to this terrible disease,” Slavin said, “or at least find better ways to detect it earlier, or prevent it, or whatever we can do to get rid of this terrible disease.”
She said she always encourages people to fight back against cancer, and how important it is to spread awareness.
“Relay for Life is open to everyone,” Slavin said. “Everyone is welcome to come and fight back with us.”
Participant Lauren Bozzo said Relay for Life is a great event.
“It helps so many people,” she said. “It gives so many people hope, and that’s what our club is all about, giving people hope.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)