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Relay for Life raises $$ for Cancer Society

April 06, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL
  • Southwest High School junior Rory Cameron plays Amazing Grace on his bagpipes as he leads walkers around the field during Friday's opening ceremonies. DON THOMPSON PHOTO
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Staff Writer

Cancer survivors, those who have lost someone to cancer and others who want to help a good cause gathered Friday and Saturday at Southwest High School in El Centro for the second annual Relay for Life.

Sponsored by the Imperial County chapter of the American Cancer Society, the event so far has raised $86,434, just under the $87,000 raised last year, event chairwoman Linda Shaner said.

But, Shaner added, money is expected to keep coming in after the event, so the figure may go higher.

Shaner, of Imperial, said the loss of her mother, Frances Dale of Imperial, to cancer in 1995 led her to volunteer with the American Cancer Society. She spearheaded the Valley's inaugural relay last year.

The 24-hour event at Southwest's track and football field began at noon Friday and concluded about noon Saturday. Close to 600 people and 35 teams participated, Shaner said.

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Volunteers braved brisk winds to camp overnight on the football field with team members taking turns walking the track around the clock. A member from each team is required to be on the track throughout the 24-hour event.

Each team pays a $100 registration fee. Teams are made up of 10 to 15 members who try to raise at least $100 each.

Awards were given to the best team or individual for certain categories. Among the awards:

· the top fund-raising team was First Imperial Credit Union, raising $7,365;

· the top fund-raising individual was Rick Rowin of El Centro, raising $2,223;

· the most spirited team was the Southwest Valley 4-H club;

· first place for campsite decorating went to Government Agencies Federal Credit Union;

· second place for campsite decorating went to ACME Staffing.

The majority of the money raised for the society benefits Imperial County patients, Shaner said. A percentage goes to research, but that benefits everyone, she noted.

El Centro Fire Chief Charles Beard is a two-time cancer survivor.

"I had two major cancer incidents, one in 1992 when I had colon cancer and had to have radical surgery, and one in 1996 when I had a deadly form of skin cancer," Beard said.

Beard said the skin cancer was bad because he didn't do anything about the 1-inch diameter mark on his torso until there were two blue spots inside it.

"It started shrinking and I thought it was going away," he said.

But anytime a mark on the body changes shape, it needs to be looked at by a dermatologist. Now Beard goes to a dermatologist every six months.

The key is early detection, he said, adding he is quite aware of his health now.

Beard said he is impressed with the support the community gives to Relay for Life. He said the money the fire departments raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association showed the same community support.

"Any one of the intersections in Imperial County raised more money for muscular dystrophy than the highest grossing intersection in San Diego County," Beard said. "And we have one of the lowest per capita incomes in the state."

It's too soon to compare how Imperial County did raising money for Relay for Life, but last year the county was fifth in the state, Shaner said.

Relay for Life has been held nationally since 1985.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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