Santa Monica’s annual Relay for Life, a relay to promote cancer awareness, is a touching event about to celebrate its 12th year. It will be held this weekend – July 26-27 – at Santa Monica College (co-sponsor and host of the event).
Teams of at least 10 people will walk or run around the SMC track for an entire 24-hour period in shifts. Participants also camp out and supply spirit for the cause.
The opening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, July 26 at 10 am, which is followed by the Survivors’ Lap and Celebration at 10:30 am. Luminaria bags and candles dedicated to those who have battled or are currently battling cancer during Relay for Life will be lit for the Luminaria Ceremony at 9 pm. The closing ceremony begins at 9:30 am on Sunday, July 27.
Activities and donations chair Martha Romano has been on the planning committee for two years. Before working to organize the event, she participated in a team made up of her friends and family.
“I had a very strong connection to the way cancer affects family members,” Romano said. “I have had several uncles die of cancer and so that’s why I participated. And being on the actual committee to prepare the event gives me an opportunity to have a bigger say in the event. My father was just diagnosed with prostate cancer this last year and now he’s cancer free so it means a lot to be able to work with this organization.”
What she likes about the event is its inclusivity. It isn’t for one particular type of cancer, but rather for anyone who has been affected – directly or through a family member or friend – to come together and raise awareness.
“It’s all types of cancer, all ages, all genders,” Romano said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, or what age level – it is for everyone and involves everyone and it really is a community event.”
The biggest impact that she sees from the relay is “the awareness that it brings to the community.”
Romano said news of cancer can be disorienting, but finding out how to cope can be imperative.
“When you hear the word cancer it’s very devastating – just trying to find out what to do next – so bringing awareness I think is the biggest impact that I have seen at least for myself and my family,” she said.
She said knowing that there “are actually organizations that have done a lot of research and have information and can provide guidance to you so you don’t feel so lost and helpless” can be extremely reassuring.
At time of press, there were 20 teams totaling 135 participants who have raised more than $21,000.
Tony Prestby, SMC’s liaison for the event, said the College was extremely honored to be able to host and support the Santa Monica Relay for Life for the 12th year.
“Our college and the community have lost several heroes to this devastating disease, and we are proud to be doing our part in the fight against cancer,” Prestby said.
Corsair Field is located at the southwest corner of the SMC campus, on 16th Street between Pearl Street and Pico Boulevard.
The main sponsor of the event is The American Cancer Society, with support from SMC, City of Santa Monica, and Santa Monica Police Department.
For more information or to register a team, visit www.relayforlife.org.