As I stared out into the sea of volunteers last weekend as they walked the Liberty High School track for Brentwood’s Relay For Life, I saw people of all races, genders, ages, creeds and abilities moving in a counter-clockwise current of courage. We might be strangers any other day, but on Relay weekend, we’re family.

Sadly, each year we lose more friends to this curse we call cancer. But for everyone who loses the battle, a community of loved ones stands up in the victim’s place and joins the Relay family.

Relay mobilizes communities to fight back. The Brentwood Relay brought in more than $138,000 for the American Cancer Society. Our sister event in Oakley brought in $84,000 earlier this year, and Antioch hosts its Relay on June 22. The money we raise won’t bring our friends back, but we hope it will buy us more time to make new friends in the future.

At its heart, Relay For Life is a celebration. We celebrate cancer survivors and their caregivers and honor those we’ve lost. We dance, we laugh, we cry and we come together to fight back. Relay is our opportunity to look into cancer’s faceless glare as we slowly stomp and crush it until there’s nothing left. Alone our steps are small, but when Relayers come together, our steps are a roaring thunder that can’t be ignored.

Relay is held just one day a year, but even after we leave the track, we’re still walking toward a cure. We’ll walk until cancer is a distant nightmare. Some of us will fall along the way, but others will take their place. We relay for a cure. We relay for life. We relay for you.

No matter who you are, you know of someone who has been affected by cancer. It’s a cruel disease, and no one has figured out how to escape cancer’s shadow, but at Relay, we come together. We shine bright. And we fight.

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