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Relay for Life will net nearly $500,000

Thousands participate in record-setting annual event

Posted: June 1, 2008 1:17 a.m.
Updated: August 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Relay For Life team walks a lap dedicated to the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center. Newhall Memorial had six booths at the Relay to help educate the public about their risk of developing cancer and how cancer can be treated. The hospital will have about 60-70 staffers manning the booth during the 24-...

 
Thousands of individuals impacted by cancer gathered at Central Park on Saturday for the record-setting 10th annual Santa Clarita Valley Relay for Life.

The American Cancer Society sponsored event, known as "A Passport to Hope," included 109 teams, plus dozens of visitors and volunteers, to fight for the cause and raise money for research, according to Candy Spahr, one of the three event chairpersons.

The relay runs an entire day and for every moment of the 24-hour cycle, a fundraising team maintains at least one individual on the track as a way to show that "cancer never sleeps," Spahr said.

She anticipates that the fundraiser will net nearly $500,000, which will go towards The American Cancer Society.

As a whole, Spahr said Relay for Life was the best yet and set records in terms of attendance and money raised. It is also the biggest Relay for Life for Los Angeles County.

"We're up everywhere," she said Saturday.

Along with the relay track, the grassy fields of the Saugus park were buzzing with booths, camping tents, speakers and entertainment throughout the day. The main stage featured inspiring talks from cancer survivors, while a special area was designated as "Survivor Village" where those affected by the disease were able to meet with others and learn about cancer.

The festivities continued into the night with the Luminaria Ceremony where up to 4,000 paper bags with glowing candles inside lit up the track as a way to honor and celebrate the lives of those who lost their battles to cancer while acknowledging their caretakers and loved ones.

During the day, nearly event booth alongside the track was filled with friends, families and co-workers brought together in the fight against cancer.

At one spot, team captain Allison Kupfer set up her site for "Allie's Mitzvah."

The 12-year-old of Valencia said she had participated in Relay for Life for years with her mother.

When the time came for her to organize her mitzvah project at Congregation Beth Shalom, she chose to raise money and offer support for Relay for Life.

On Saturday, Kupfer and her team of 15 were ready to camp out at the park and walk the track for the cause.

"As a team, we know a lot of cancer survivors," she said.

On the other side of the track, team Wolf Pack and members of the 35-person group were sharing stories while lounging on the cool Saturday morning.

Team captain Joane Bryant of Canyon Country, who has been breast cancer free for 9 years, said the team surpassed her personal goal of raising $7,000 for the cancer organization.

Like many of the other teams, Wolf Pack brought together friends, church members and co-workers.

"It's definitely a community event," Bryant said.

Nearly half of team Wolf Pack was made up of cancer survivors, who all wore purple Relay for Life shirts with the word "Survivor" on the back.

One team member was Ryan O'Donnell, a 14-year-old from Valencia who has been a brain cancer survivor for five years. He decided to get involved because the event sounded "cool," especially because he is a survivor.

Kay Thatcher of Newhall made her first trip to Relay for Life.

Thatcher, who has been a breast cancer survivor for 10 years, said taking part in the Survivor Lap, which brings together all the people who have beat cancer to kick off Relay for Life, was an emotional experience.

"I did not expect it," she said as her voice changed and her sunglasses hid the tears in her eyes.

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