Ikaika Mau Loa (Strength Forever)

Arcadia Relay for Life Raises over $118,000

By Amy Leong

Sitting on the sidelines of the track, the children shouted, “Look at the lights! Look at the lights!” These were the lights that each individual held in their hands, to light up the pathway of the track, to light up the spirits of those who lost loved ones, and to light up the world with their message: Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back. These were not just any lights, but each glow stick that lit the track that night was a representative of all those touched by cancer. It was the famous IMG 1126tradition of the luminaria ceremony, where each individual held a glow stick soon to be broken. First, they were cracked for those who had family members who were affected by cancer. Second, they were broken for any friend that was touched by this terrible disease.

Relay for Life, a 24 hour event held on June 25-26, celebrated these survivors and loved ones who passed away from this disease. As we took the final lap around the Santa Anita Race Track that night, it was truly an inspiration to fight back against cancer because instead of fighting alone, hundreds of us stood together, walking as one big ohana. Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind. In great enthusiasm, we gathered our courage to fight and lifted our spirits up to the heavens to show cancer our strength.

Going up against all these challenges, we have heard cries for the cure, smelled the sweet taste of freedom as survivors, and have cherished everyday for those who have been touched by cancer. We have felt ourselves let go of the little things in life and pledged ourselves to keeping the cause alive. Relay for Life has become so much more than life changing. Being a part of Relay is what you feel in your heart and soul, and going out of your way to spread cancer awareness and love to those around you. IMG 1172

With over 700 active participants, Arcadia’s Relay for Life rose to the top with a donation of over $118,000 dollars for the American Cancer Society. The money will help go toward discovering new medicines, supporting patients in need, and funding other supplies to get one step closer to the cure.

17-year-old Monique Salazar, a cancer survivor of AML leukemia, said “I am so proud of all the support people have given! I am happy to be a survivor with this kind of support.” Diagnosed at age two, Monique went into full remission at age six and is a proud graduate from Bishop Amat High School in La Puente. A leading speaker in the opening ceremony with her mother, her inspiring story gives us all hope and strength that one day we will live in a cancer-free world.

It is true that Relay is nothing without the support of our 49 teams, 719 participants, 25 committee members, and 1 event chairman. Event Chairman, Mr. Carter Spruill exclaimed, “It was an honor for me to be the event chairman over the past two years and in that two year period, even in these tough economic times, we rose over a quarter million dollars for The American Cancer Society and the fight against cancer.” But what amazed him most was the number of youth volunteers who were involved with Relay in the past two years. Club Hope from Arcadia High School’s Hope Can Cure Cancer Club raised over $4,000, while many other teams also raised this amount and greater.
IMG 1158Fundraising all day with crafts, food items, games, homemade gifts, and raffles, each team did their best to decorate their campsite with the Polynesian theme, promote their cancer for the booth, and raise money for a good cause. Tupua Productions even promoted the Hawaiian theme even more with a hula dancing show and juggling fire torches during the night. Enthusiasm and cheers from team members rose when the Miss Relay Contest began, represented by a male from each team dressed in coconut bras and hula skirts to win victory, while whoever was thought to be best dressed would raise the most donations.

Most importantly, however, is why we choose to relay and what we have did, done, have been doing, or will do to help stop the spread of cancer. Team Captain Chair LeAnn Solis said, “I relay to honor those who have lost their battle to cancer, those who are battling now, and those who are survivors.” Together, as one big Ohana, let’s not only fight back against cancer, but win victory over the number of lives cancer has touched. Let us keep our strength and pride to fight on and let’s continue our Ikaika Mau Loa, strength always and forever.

June 30, 2011

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