For 24 hours, from Saturday morning until Sunday morning, people circled the track to support cancer survivors, remember those who have lost their lives to cancer and raise money for a cure.
It was the fourth year that Danville has participated in this national movement that brings communities together in the fight against cancer and raises millions for the American Cancer Society every year.
According to Lori Garcia, survivor chairperson of the Relay for Life of Danville, 36 of this year’s 210 walkers were cancer survivors.
“The other walkers have parents, siblings or friends who are cancer patients,” she said. “They set up teams to support cancer survivors or to remember someone they lost to cancer.”
Garcia lost both of her parents to cancer.
As the survivors arrived at the registration table, Garcia hung a medal around each person’s neck and said warmly, “This is for you because you’re our VIP.”
Each survivor also received a purple T-shirt bearing the message “Celebrate. Remember. Fight back.”
Among the walkers was two-time breast cancer survivor Mary Thompson and her husband, Larry. This was their first time attending Relay for Life. Thompson said she heard about it from her support group at .
“I’ve had breast cancer twice, I’ve had a mastectomy, I’ve been through chemotherapy,” Thompson said. “I hope it’s gone, but you can never really say if it’s been cured.”
Danville mayor Karen Stepper attended the relay, too. She declared Saturday and Sunday "Relay for Life Weekend" with a proclamation from the Danville Town Council.
Wearing a purple suit in honor of the occasion, Stepper read the proclamation during the opening ceremony.
She added: “I know I have the right color, but I also have the right heart for this occasion because tonight I’ll be calling my sister in Indiana who has cancer and started treatment two weeks ago. Danville has all kinds of people who are involved in the fight against cancer, and I can’t applaud you enough for what you’re doing.”
The event was sponsored by individual donors and local businesses including , whose previous owner, Al Soltero, died from cancer three years ago. His seven daughters formed a Relay for Life team called Al’s Angels.
Cancer survivors walked the first lap around the track and then were joined by their support teams. Each team had to keep at least one member walking over the next 24 hours. Teams set up tents on the football field so that some walkers could rest while others continued the relay.
As the American Cancer Society explains on its website: “The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical effects, emotions and mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment.”