If you noticed that Renton Memorial Stadium looks more like a campground this weekend than a football field, it’s because the American Cancer Society and local supporters are holding their 11th annual Renton Relay for Life this weekend.
It’s a joyful and inspiring fundraising event. Around 700 people are literally camped out with their relay teams at the stadium. They’re obligated to have someone walking laps at all hours of the day. The team’s have gathered sponsors in advance, and the money raised will benefit the American Cancer Society.
The opening ceremonies began at 6:00 yesterday, and were started off with a girl scout troop leading the crowd in the pledge of allegiance under a perfect blue sky. A melodious choir comprising seven of our talented local high school students sang for the crowd. And then courageous speakers shared stories of fighting cancer, and cancer survival.
Next, a hundred or so cancer survivors ran or walked a victory lap around the stadium. This part was very touching to me. Everyone of the survivors–parents, grandparents, children, friends, colleagues– critically important and deeply loved by so many people; and they are all still with us because of our successes in the fight against cancer.
After that, everyone who was a cancer caregiver, or had provided support as a family member to a cancer victim took a lap. This seemed to be just about everyone. So many of us have lost loved ones to this scourge of a disease.
There was a great band, that made the occasion even more festive. Lori Corvett, who did an outstanding job as the principal organizer for the whole event and is herself a cancer survivor, then introduced me so that I could officially welcome everyone to the City of Renton.
Other city staff and Renton school personnel (who were lending their stadium) were present as well. Some of our off-duty Renton city employees had formed a team, and were participating in the Relay for Life themselves.
Other city staff were on-duty, making sure everything went smoothly. Our city officials, including a police officer I spoke with, said this event is always easy and smooth. The participants are at the event only to make trouble for cancer… nobody else. And to me, it seemed like they had cancer on the run.
The Relay for Life will be continuing through most of the day today.