PUBLISHED: 4:24 PM on Wednesday, July 19, 2006
A message of hope
Relay For Life raises funds for American Cancer Society

Photo by Rosie Milligan
  Mary Reeves, left, and Courtney Reeves make an impression Saturday, July 15, at Relay For Life on a banner to be sent to the Legislature in advocacy to support cancer research.
A celebration of life was what brought about 200 people to Dimond Park in Juneau on Saturday, July 15, for the annual Relay For Life.

The fund-raiser brought in more than $25,000 for the American Cancer Society. Sarah Hoffman of the ACS in Anchorage said there are eight relays held in the state, and the money goes toward research, education, advocacy and services.

"Beyond the fund-raiser, this is a time to honor survivors and show the people in the community that we support them," Hoffman said.

Juneau RFL chairperson Pat Yearty said attendance was down from last year but the event was a success.

Yearty, a cancer survivor of 10 years, said the event is significant to celebrate the victory with a battle of cancer.

"For every survivor it's a party," Yearty said.

"Every year is a gift because we know that 20 years ago we'd probably be dead."

She said the event also honors those who have died because of cancer.

"With every donation comes a story. They've lost somebody to cancer and they want to do something about it," Yearty said. "I lost both of my parents to cancer, and it still burns. I can do something about it. I can do this."

According to the ACS the organization invests more than $100 million in cancer research each year, and has funded researchers in breakthroughs such as identification of the first cancer-causing gene, the first successful bone marrow transplant and cures for childhood leukemia.

"There are steps being made every day. Maybe it's a tine step, but there are lots of lives attached to that step, and we don't want to forget those people," Yearty said.

Hoffman said ACS lends support to cancer patients across the country. Services such as rides from the airport to doctor's visits and cancer support groups are open to anyone, she said.

Bea Long participated in her third relay, and said she raises money by asking friends for support. She said she walks in memory of her husband, Nello, who died of cancer.

"I'm not a survivor, but I'm here to support his memory," Long said.

Wanda Fleming walked in the relay for her first time beside Long on the Curves for Women team.

"I try to support as much of the cancer events as I can," Fleming said.

Rob Corcoran walked the track to support his youngest son, Conner, 6, who was born with cancer. Yearty said he was the youngest survivor at the Juneau event.

"It seems so wrong to order such a little shirt for a survivor," Yearty said. "Kids and cancer shouldn't go together."