On Friday, many cancer survivors, caregivers, families, and friends came together to the annual Williamsburg Relay for Life at Warhill High School, New Jersey. The event aimed to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

From 7pm to 7am, everyone whose life had been touched by the disease and wanted to contribute was part of the night walk. Inspired by those many survivors and the family and friends of the fallen, the event even looks to fight back against the disease and help those who are still fighting, according to a press release by the organization.

The event aimed to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Photo credit: Consumers eLibrary
The event aimed to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Photo credit: Consumers eLibrary

The event raised $195,939 between 71 teams, about $13,910 was raised the night of the relay. Between 1,000 and 1,500 people attended the fundraising walk as reported by Daily Press. The event had from children activities to a more sentimental gathering where the survivors shared their stories.

As part of the event, there was a survivors lap. At this moment, all cancer survivors at the event took the first lap around the track as they celebrated their victory over cancer while cheered on by the other participants who line the way.

A moment referred as the “Luminaria ceremony” was held after the place went dark, so they could remember the people who have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past and support those whose fight still continues.

There was also a “Fight Back Ceremony” where at a more emotionally intense gathering Relay participants encourage people to take some action. According to the main objectives of the ceremony, this symbolizes the emotional commitment each of them can make in the fight against cancer.

The action taken represented what they are willing to do for themselves, for their love ones and for the community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives. The nationwide event has raised nearly $5 billion to fight cancer in the past.

The stories of the people

One of the most outstanding moments of the ceremony was what some people have gone through to stand and support others in their fight, that even though the money represented great help the motivation of those who had succeeded in the fight could be as important.

The story of Cory Lillis was told by his mother, who commented that even though the boy had not been battling cancer himself, he was exposed from an early age to the disease. Cory even started to take action against the disease at a really early age.

“In 2nd grade, about 2008, Cory’s occupational therapist had gotten breast cancer, and Cory decided he decided he wanted to do something for her. He grew out his hair for two years and cut it in front of the Pleasantdale School to support her,” Cory’s mother said.

However, his friend’s fight did not end there. By fifth grade, she had been diagnosed again, so Cory grew his hair back and this time he cut it in front of his friends at Liberty Middle School. At the age 13 he created his own relay team, the mother added.

Survivors also encouraged people to consult with their physicians and do not postpone any pain they may have. Survivor David DeRonde was diagnosed in 2003 with advanced stage 3 colorectal cancer and commented in the event that she had the symptoms for over a year but did not go to the doctor when she should have.

Source: Relay for Life