Hundreds of people around the Coastal Empire spent Friday night walking in the rain. It wasn't an exercise fad. They're walking to save lives at Richmond Hill's tenth annual Relay for Life. More than three hundred and fifty cancer survivors, caregivers, families and supporters wouldn't give up. When the skies over Richmond Hill opened up, they kept the Relay for Life right under the canopy at J.F. Gregory Park.
Eighteen teams will walk laps throughout the night. One person from each team will be on the course at all times. Cancer survivors were cheered on like the heroes they are. Survivors, young and old, took the first lap in the Relay for Life. It is a special trip for the Clark family. At three, Emily Clark is a young survivor. She was diagnosed with cancer at birth.
"She was actually born with neuroblastoma," explained Emily's mother, Karen Clark. "It is a cancer of the nervous system. It was located in her spine and paralyzed her from the waist down."
Today, Emily's cancer is in remission and for the first time in her young life, with the aid of a tiny walker and braces, she walked the survivor's lap on her own.
"She has only been walking now for exactly one month," added Clark, "so this event is very special for us... that she's able to walk at a Relay for Life for the first time."
The survivors are an inspiration to others and themselves.
"You don't realize how many there are, but it's good to see all of them participating in things like this and looking forward to the day when they're completely cured," said cancer survivor David Aspinwall.
While the Relay for Life is a fun event, with a Las Vegas-style theme this year, the mission is one everyone takes very seriously. They remember those who are no longer here. A sign posted above the Richmond Hill Elementary School's team dedicates this year's efforts to a teacher's husband, who died last month of cancer. Throughout the night, with each game played, every song performed and every step taken, they realize they are one step closer to finding a cure.
Richmond Hill Relay for Life officials say the teams more than doubled their goal of $62,000 raising $121,000 this year!