On an overcast day on the football field of Miguel Contreres High School, Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry addressed a crowd of approximately 200 people at Relay for Life. This event, which takes place several times a year all across the United States and abroad, raises awareness and money for cancer research.
"There was a time, when we would not even say the word when I was growing up," Perry reflected.
"When a relative or close family friend had cancer, we would say, 'He's very sick,' or 'She has the Big C.'
"It is encouraging to see people more open and engaging in dialogue in discussing this disease instead of being in denial about it," the councilwoman said.
Created in 1984, Relay for Life ultimately will take place in 75 Los Angeles communities through October. It is one of the largest non-profit fundraising events in the world. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's overnight event that celebrates cancer survivors, remembers those who succumbed to the disease, and raises money for research and American Cancer Society programs.
At Relay for Life, teams of people gather at schools or parks and take turns running, jogging, or walking around a track.
When they were not going around the track, people at the recent Relay for Life enjoyed food, interacting with each other, and games. In addition, those in attendance were treated to live music provided by Fleury Bursey of the Ink Spots, 2-U-Neek duo Ashley and Ashton Ruiz, and Alondra Santos. The day's highlights included the opening Cancer Survivors' Lap and the evening's candle-lighting Luminaria ceremony in memory of those who have lost their lives to cancer and in honor of those who have survived or are fighting the disease.
"One of four people will be touched by cancer in their life," Perry said. "Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society are to be commended for their efforts (to) put these events together to help bring awareness about early detection and other preventative measures to fight cancer. It's great to see all of you out here today. Your presence is a testament (to) the work that Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society have done for many years."
In 2009, Relay for Life commemorated its 25th anniversary. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million Americans have participated in 5,034 relays across the U.S. and in 21 foreign countries, and have raised more than $386 million for research, prevention, and early detection programs.
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer through saving lives, reducing suffering, and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service.