For 24 continuous hours, from June 21 at 10 a.m. through June 22 at 10 a.m., residents of East County will walk in support of those who have survived cancer, in remembrance of those who have lost their battle and in honor of those who continue to fight the disease. The event is known as Relay For Life.
The fundraiser, held simultaneously at Liberty High School in Brentwood and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg and administered by the American Cancer Society, is part of a larger movement boasting nearly 5,000 relays nationwide.
But for Bob Hunter, event chair for the Los Medanos event, the relay is a highly personal day. Hunter lost his wife a few years ago to pancreatic cancer, and he says that his involvement in the Relay For Life program has offered him a venue in which to grieve and eventually heal.
I was absolutely lost until I found this (event), he said. When my wife passed away from cancer, I didn't know what to do. Getting involved in this has been a lifesaver for my family and an opportunity to do something positive.
To date, the Antioch Relay For Life chapter has assembled 110 teams to walk in the relay. Its goal is to attract around 3,000 participants. With the economy what it is right now, we're not sure how well we'll do, said Hunter. But so far the response has been wonderful.
This is an event that brings everyone together in one common fight. Cancer is an equal opportunity devil. We're all in the same boat, and this event allows us to do something and make a difference.
The Antioch and Brentwood chapters' family-friendly events will both feature live entertainment, food and games. A candlelight celebration, the Luminaria event, honoring all those who have been affected by cancer, will also be held in the evening at both locations.
Brett Morey, publicity media chairman for the Brentwood Relay For Life, said the goal is to raise over $350,000 in Brentwood. If successful, the Brentwood chapter will have raised over a million dollars in just four years of hosting the relay.
We've taken in $200,000 already in both online and local business donations, and we have over 100 teams committed to the event, said Morey. When you really boil it all down, this is the biggest community event that happens each year in Brentwood, and it really unites us all in East County. There are so many wonderful, exciting people who are giving of their time. On a personal note, my mother is a cancer survivor, so I am more than happy to help in any way I can. This (cancer) is something that affects everyone on some level.
For more information on the Relay For Life event, call Bob Hunter in Antioch at 925-783-0734. In Brentwood, contact Brett Morey at 925-439-2693.