“Up yours, cancer! Go to hell!” said nine-year breast cancer survivor and warrior George Ann McDonnell, the rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Santa Clara. “We gonna celebrate today!”
In opening remarks at the American Cancer Society’s 19th Annual Relay for Life of Santa Clara on April 27, McDonnell encouraged all gathered at Buchser Middle School’s Townsend Field to “celebrate, remember and fight back” against cancer.
“Be kind to people no matter what,” said McDonnell. “Live fearlessly and remember that aging is a gift.”
By the end of the weekend, 36 feisty Relay walking teams had raised $108,319 towards a goal of $120,000 targeted for cancer research, education, prevention and care support.
The top teams were the Cancer Wrecking Crew with $20,123 pledged and Wild Walkers with $16,904 in pledges. Team Hope was neck-and-neck for second place with $16,572 pledged.
Santa Clara has a City team for the first time ever: Mission City POSSIBLE. Its members are from the City Council, City Hall and library. They were recruited by dedicated Relay Leadership Team members Mattie Baker and Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley.
Relay for Life was a festive occasion for a life-saving cause. The teams raised money throughout the day in creative and fun ways.
The Code 3 Walkers, who included Santa Clara Police Department Chief Mike Sellers and Assistant Chief Dan Winter, jailed “wanted” people and held them until their time was up or their bail was paid. The Cancer Wrecking Crew rented out decorated bras for 50 cents per lap.
Entertainment and events for participants were scheduled into the night — from music to movies to magic. At dark, luminarias — decorated paper lunch bags with candles inside — were lighted in memory and honor of loved ones battling cancer. Phil Lenihan played the bag pipes, and Stacey Souza sang “Every Candle Has a Name.”
All through the night, team members took turns napping in their tents and walking the track, knowing that cancer never sleeps. Relay for Life closed with an 8 a.m. ceremony on Sunday, after 22 hours of walking to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer.
The Relay for Life lead team expressed appreciation for Relay sponsors. Presenting sponsors are Amazon, The Core Companies, Agrihood, Hitachi and Al Moridi Realty Team.
You don’t need to do laps around a track to help Relay for Life of Santa Clara reach its $120,000 goal. It only takes a few steps to the computer to be part of a priceless cure.