Photo By: PHotos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Onsite nurse Connie Johnson, left in blue, hugs cancer survivor Kaye DeVries at Saturday’s Relay For Life at Egan Junior High.
Tears flowed at last weekend’s ninth annual Relay For Life of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Some participants were overcome remembering those lost to cancer, while others cried in celebration of surviving the disease.
More than 400 men, women and children took part in the 24-hour event, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Held on the track at Egan Junior High School, the theme of this year’s Relay was “Great Race to a Cure.”
The Relay began with the traditional survivor’s lap and the release of two flights of doves 10 a.m. Saturday. As evening approached, a somber ceremony featuring songs and the recitation of names honored those who have died of cancer. Nearly 1,600 commemorative luminaria lined the track as participants circled throughout the night.
Thirty-nine teams of supporters set up racing-themed campsites, joined by survivors clad in purple shirts and colorful hats. In addition to selling baked goods and hosting information booths on various types of cancer and prevention, participants brought inflatable pools, telescopes and lawn games to pass the time and combat temperatures that reached the mid-80s.
For many, Relay For Life is more than just a weekend of walking and fundraising.
“Relay For Life is a safe place where you get to spend 24 hours with best friends you just met,” said Jan Masters, corporate sponsorship and donations coordinator for this year’s event.
After losing her best friend to bone cancer, Masters advocated on behalf of the American Cancer Society. She calls Relay For Life “a gift” for cancer patients, survivors and others who face fear, shame or isolation.
For other participants, the event is a celebration of survival. After battling cancer himself and then helping his 15-year-old daughter, Paige, overcome a cancer diagnosis last year, Los Altos City Councilman David Casas said Relay For Life helped “crystallize what was important in life.”
The oldest survivor at this year’s event, retired kindergarten teacher Nora Thorneycroft, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 90. The first person in her family to contract the disease, Thorneycroft is doing well two years later.
“It is fun to be alive and to be here today,” she said.
As of the Town Crier’s Monday press deadline, the Relay had raised approximately $148,000, and organizers said they’re continuing to collect money.
To donate or for more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/losaltosca.