Relay for Life: Participants needed for 24-hour cancer walkathon at La Jolla High

After the survivor lap, participants start the 24 hours of walking at the 2012 Relay.
After the survivor lap, participants start the 24 hours of walking at the 2012 Relay.

By Ashley Mackin

The American Cancer Society motto is “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,” and it’s the reason the Relay for Life fundraiser will have events to reflect those themes. Volunteers and registered teams are still needed for this 24-hour relay, starting 9 a.m. Saturday, June 29 at La Jolla High School, 750 Nautilus St.

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After the survivor lap, participants start the 24 hours of walking at the 2012 Relay.

There are no limits when it comes to creating a team. There is no minimum number of people required or amount they must raise. Event organizers just hope people register online (though on- site registration is also available) and that La Jollans participate.

“This year, we’re really trying to get more La Jollans involved ... I’m so passionate about this event and I want to make it great in La Jolla,” said event chair Jamie Meronoff of the signature American Cancer Society fundraiser. “One of the things I really like about the Relay is it’s an all-inclusive cancer event. It’s not like the breast cancer walk or the prostate cancer walk. Anyone who has cancer, we want them there to celebrate and remember.”

The “celebrate” event is the Survivor Lap that kicks off the event. Cancer survivors walk a lap around the La Jolla High running track at 9 a.m., followed by all the participants. Team members continue to circle the track for the next 24 hours, though each individual walker does not need to be on the track the entire time. Meronoff said the idea is to have at least one person representing the team on the track at all times.

Or, some people can show up and walk for an hour, he said. As long as they pay the $10 registration fee, anyone can participate for any amount of time. For those attending, there will be live entertainment and a booth for decorating the luminaria bags that will light the way during the “remember” portion of the event.

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Luminaria bags light the way for night- walkers at the 2012 Relay.

Considered the most touching portion of the event, the memorial presentation starts at 9 p.m. and includes a slideshow with pictures and quotes of those who lost their battle with cancer — or who are currently fighting the disease. Those who want to submit photos or quotes can e-mail LaJollaRelay.luminaria@gmail.com

Following the slideshow, cancer survivors will share their stories as the track becomes lined with luminaria bags. After the speakers, participants walk a lap in silence to honor those who have recently passed away. As they take the lap, walkers will place a battery- operated candle in each bag to light the way during the night hours for those choosing to participate after sunset.

“The idea (behind walking at night) is that cancer never sleeps, so for 24 hours, the team doesn’t sleep,” Meronoff said. “The real troopers will set up the campsites on the field and walk through the wee hours of the night.”

The next day at 9 a.m., participants take one last “fight back” lap to close the event.

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During the 2011 Relay, survivors release doves.

“Everyone comes together for one final lap of the relay as our commitment to fighting back against cancer for the year to come,” Meronoff said.

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