PASO ROBLES — A flyer resting on one of the many tables nestled along the track read, "Cancer never sleeps, so neither do we! Relay For Life was originally conceived as a 24-hour event because cancer patients battle the disease around the clock. When we relay, we go on, whether it is day or night, rain or shine... NO MATTER WHAT! Cancer patients don't get a day off from the disease, so why should we? There is no finish line until we find a cure!"
Local teams of cancer survivors and caregivers, their families and local law enforcement, firefighters and veterans gathered at the Paso Robles event center Saturday for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Over the course of 24 hours, many, many miles were walked, stories of victory and tragedy were shared and lost loved ones remembered.
Tents were set up around the area as teams settled in for the duration of the relay. Children boasted that they were going to stay up all night with the grown ups and there were plenty of hugs to go around.
Yet, despite the joyful energy as the day kicked off, the intensity of the event was palpable. During the reading of a poem preceding the luminary ceremony participants stood when a month of the year coincided with the month they lost someone to the battle with cancer. The sight of individuals standing, then sitting, then standing again in various numbers throughout the crowd felt like waves of sorrow. Then a lap, illuminated by decorated luminarias honoring lost loved ones, was taken with bagpipes playing in the lead.
Free breakfast was provided for the participants by the Wellness Kitchen and all proceeds raised through the silent auction, team raffles and various goods sold at the team tables went to help fund cancer research.
Deb Jeffers lost her seven year old niece to cancer and has been involved with relay for the past 19 years as both a volunteer/caregiver and ACS staff member.
“The American Cancer Society does not provide monetary support to individuals," she said. "It does use funds raised entirely for research and any and all research is on the table. Anything it takes to find a cure.”