The ball field behind was transformed this weekend into a family-friendly festival as the sixth-annual raised money for the American Cancer Society.
The 24-hour event consists of teams that walk the perimeter of the ball field as music plays, dancers dance and children frolic all around. Participating teams came from churches, schools and community groups and attempted to have someone walking on the track throughout the entire event, which began at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Walkers Ann Lilleberg, Sydney Price and Danielle Stevens were on the team from and were walking the course Saturday afternoon. This isn’t the first year they have participated in the relay—Stevens put in a full 24 hours last year. This year they plan on being at the event through the end.
“I love it,” Price said. “We have a lot of (cancer) survivors at our church.”
Lilleberg was wearing a purple T-shirt that identified her as a cancer survivor.
“I was diagnosed in ’07, and I had two surgeries,” Lilleberg said. “Right now, I’m cancer-free.”
Tents sprang up as people prepared to stay all night for the good cause, with live music entertaining the crowds on Saturday. Movies were planned for 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. Teams also sold food and drinks to raise additional money.
Event chairwoman Jennifer Mendoza said 24 teams signed up for the relay, and she expected 315 to 400 people would be registered as participants.
“So far I think we’re over $20,000 raised online. Of course we take in a lot of money today as well,” Mendoza said. “There’s a lot of team fundraisers going on. … I think were going to go over $30,000.”
While there was a festive atmosphere Saturday afternoon as kids played and music blared over the loudspeakers, one of the highlights of the weekend was the luminaria ceremony, when decorated bags glowing by candlelight line the track after dark. As survivors and their supporters walk the course, thoughts are often with those who were taken by cancer.
“It’s just a very solemn, reflective ceremony,” Mendoza said.