ST. PETERSBURG – One of the hottest days of the year did not stop the more than 400 citizens of all ages from coming out and taking part in the annual American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life fundraiser at the Lakewood High School last Friday, April 28.
The air was filled with the smell of grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and a variety of sweets. To quince one’s thirst, several varieties of lemonade, teas, soft drinks, and sodas were available.
After a community prayer to bless the fundraiser and all participants, Zala Highsmith shared a soul-stirring story about being a two-time cancer survivor for more than 30 years.
Competitive Edge kicked off the entertainment segment for the evening with their high energy, acrobatic dance routines. The majority of runners, walkers, parents and well wishers formed a semi-circle and cheered the young performers as they executed their dance routines.
After sunset, approximately 20 kids participated in several fun rounds of musical chairs as DJ Paul D provided the soundtrack for the event.
Every year, the most stirring part of the event occurs when the football stadium lights are turned off to highlight the luminaria that lines the entire track field. Luminarias are decorated light-colored bags with a person’s name and a short message on each.
The luminaria ceremony pays tribute to those cancer victims who have transitioned to their heavenly home, those who are aggressively fighting the good fight and those who are in remission. Therefore, it punctuates the spiritual elements of hope, healing and rebirth from cancer.
The treatment of cancer is extraordinarily expensive. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Research and Quality reported in 2013 direct medical costs for cancer as well as healthcare expenditures reached $74.8 billion. Hospital outpatient or office-based visits represented 43.7 percent of costs; inpatient hospital stays made up 39.7 percent of the cost and 11.6 percent on prescription medications comprised the remaining costs.
By 2020, however, the increasing survival rate of cancer patients could result in an estimated cost of cancer care reaching $173 billion, an increase of 39 percent from 2010.
Therefore, annual Relay For Life fundraisers help provide financial support to fight one of the deadliest life-threatening diseases worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society’s report “Cancer Facts and Figures 2016,” an estimated 595,690 American citizens are predicted to have died from cancer in the same year; 314,290 males and 281,400 females.
By Wednesday, the Relay For Life event at Lakewood High School raised $13,639. However, donations can still be made through at acsevents.org and then selecting a team to support.