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Thank You: Relay for Life plaudits

May 13, 2002

On April 5 and 6, Imperial County experienced the American Cancer Society's second annual Relay For Life event. Thirty-eight teams of 10 to 15 walkers/runners joined with cancer survivors, the honored guests, for the relay. Nearly $93,000 was raised during the 24-hour event. It truly was about a community that takes up the fight, the fight against cancer.

Linda Shaner, Relay For Life chairperson, again provided the leadership that inspired so many in the Imperial and Mexicali valleys to participate. She remains the embodiment of a volunteer leader and the American Cancer Society continues to enjoy the good fortune of having her as one of its own. She recruited a formidable executive committee and together they worked incessantly to insure success. Committee members included team recruiters Becky Deal and Nancy Thornburg; registration, Stephanie Weldon; entertainment, Dick Slobig; sponsorship, Gerald Gauna and Jeff Pantle; luminaria, Lupita Islas; publicity, Joselito Villero; food, Kilah Wilkinson, Carla and Tom Bell; logistics, David Weldon; security, Oren Fox; survivorship, Retta Wilson; kids camp, Luce Filiatrault; and cancer control, Norma Galindo.

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We are very grateful to our 2002 Relay For Life sponsors. They include platinum sponsors Black Dog Farms and Imperial Irrigation District; gold sponsors Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District, San Diego County Water Authority and Paradise Casino; silver sponsors Valley Independent Bank, Kiwanis Club of El Centro, Open System Imaging, El Centro Regional Medical Center and Entravision Communications Co; and bronze sponsors Bob and Sylvia Trimm, Union Bank of Brawley, Government Agencies Federal Credit Union, and Imperial Valley Cancer Center. Thank you one and all.

If teams are the heart of Relay For Life, survivors are the soul. The survivors' reception honored 84 survivors. The luminaria ceremony once again moved all who attended and reminded us just why we are fighting this fight. Nearly 1,400 luminaria in honor or in memory of loved ones lighted the track at Southwest High School. It was truly the highlight of the relay event and for us all reinforced our mission to eradicate cancer.

Thank you Linda Shaner and the hundreds of volunteers it took to stage this amazing event. Thank you, too, to the participants who gave 24 hours of their life to support those who battle cancer every 24 hours of their lives. Mark your calendars for the third annual Relay For Life, April 26 and 27, 2003. We hope to see you there.

LINDA FITCH

American Cancer Society

Imperial County District Office

Community services director

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