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Relay for Life took place at the Ballard High School track over the weekend, where 241 participants walked all night for their loved ones. Calvin, Simon and Emma Czyzauski walked for their grandpa.
Relay for Life: Walking all night for the disease that never sleeps
Cancer never sleeps, and neither did the 241 participants in this year’s overnight Relay for Life event that took place on the Ballard High School track on May 19 and May 20.
Twenty-four hours of walking raised funds for the American Cancer Society Teams to support patients and help fund cancer research for a cure.
“[This is inspiring me a ton – I lost my dad to cancer,” said participant Shannon Daily. “It shows that a lot of people care, not just from family and friends, but from people that don’t even know them.”
The relay began at 10 in the morning on Saturday, May 19. As evening drew near and the Luminaria Ceremony arrived, somberness fell over the track. Friends and family gathered near their decorated luminarias as they prepared to light a candle of hope for their loved ones.
Marilyn Klepper remembered her teenage daughter, Jeanne-Marie, who died from a rare “young person’s” cancer – osteosarcomaon, on Mother’s Day in 2001.
Klepper led the introduction to the ceremony and spoke of how cancer is a sleepless disease. The 24-hour relay signified this daily fight.
Shannon Daily walked the track with husband Brian and friend Christy Malone, whose mom is a cancer survivor. This was Malone’s first time doing the Relay for Life and she wrote Philippians 4:13 on her mom’s luminaria.
‘“I liked the line at the beginning [of the that said ‘cancer is a sleepless disease’. It runs with the time of the event . . . it’s this idea of perseverance,”’ said Malone.
For 15-year-old Adam Evan, perseverance was at his core. This was his seventh year participating in the Relay for Life, but this year was his first time doing the relay without his aunt, so he wanted to do something special for her. After his aunt died last year of cancer, Evans made it his goal to walk the full 24 hours without stopping.
“Cancer is a 24-hour-round-the-clock thing, I’m just experiencing one day and somehow I’m finding out what my aunt experienced,” said Evans. “Doing this without her is a big deal. I remember seeing her always smiling even while she was dealing with a deadly disease.”
Many tents dotted the football field as team members took turns walking the track past glowing luminaries in remembrance of those lost to cancer and those still courageously battling the disease.
Friends Kolena Dang and Merissa Ng camped out on the football field while they waited for their turn to walk. Dang spoke of how her Kiwanis leader was a breast cancer survivor.
“We support her and a bunch of people are there for her,” said Dang. “Cancer is never-ending – it’s always there. We’re out here to spread awareness, fundraise for the cause and try to make a difference.”
The RFL became a family event for some, like the Czyzauski family who walked for their grandpa who is currently treating for leukemia.
BHS Freshman, Calvin Czyzauski, walked with his younger brother and sister and brought friends to the relay as well. He said his dad has been participating, but this year was the first time they were all doing it while knowing someone with cancer. Their grandfather’s luminaria read, “Dziadzai” which means “grandpa” in Polish.
“During most of the day the Relay for Life is exciting, then once the music and lights go down it’s pretty sad and you start to think about things,” said Czyzauski. “[Participating in this event that we care and that we’re involved with fighting for the cure.”
26 teams raised $22,044 in the NW Relay for Life this year. Top teams included Cougs Crushin’ Cancer, Jeanne-Marie’s Team, and the Ballard Orchestra.
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