A willingness to combat cancer led six dedicated residents to organize six teams for a Relay for Life walk at Cesar Chavez Park in Colton over a decade ago, according to Rock N 4 A Cure team leader Darlene Duron.
The 48-year-old breast cancer survivor was among the group that helped put together what is now among the Top 10 American Cancer Society fundraising efforts in Southern California. “It has been overwhelming, but worth it because of hard work and dedication,” Duron said.
As of Sunday morning, the 68 teams that signed up for the 12th annual event held at Colton High School’s Memorial Stadium, garnered $100,907 that will go towards funding research and support service programs to help cancer patients. Teams have until August to raise money for this year’s cause.
“We’ve raised $842,000 in the last ten years,” event Co-Chair Randy Rivera said. “We’re hoping to reach that million mark soon.”
The event began with an opening prayer from San Salvador and Immaculate Conception Church Deacon Bob Amador and words from Mayor Richard De La Rosa and several councilmembers. Survivors then began the relay, followed by a Military lap to honor current servicemen and women and veterans of past wars.
In the afternoon a statement read by Villa to the 68 teams was received with joyous smiles and tears of grief by many in attendance. Similarly, the Luminaria ceremony resulted in cheers as survivors released balloons and lit glow sticks and candles.
The Relay’s theme of family and unity is something Co-Chair Renee Villa explained makes the day all that much special for cancer survivors and residents who have lost loved ones to the disease.
“This event demonstrates that we all come together for such a great cause,” said Villa.
Cervical Cancer survivor Angie Perez would agree that Relay events give hope to those that feel like giving up.
After losing her aunt to breast cancer in 2013 and learning of her 4-year-old nephew’s diagnosis of leukemia, Perez knew she had to help her employer Mountain West Financial raise money for cancer research and services for survivors. She explained that her workplace has helped raise approximately $14,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“This event is close to my heart,” said Perez. “This is what it’s all about saving lives. This is all about businesses and local people supporting survivors.”
Perez encourages residents to seek medical attention frequently and develop healthy lifestyles and eating habits to reduce chances of contracting cancerous diseases.
“We can’t lose anymore people to cancer,” she said. “We have to beat it.”