Cancer survivors, family members, friends, celebrities and local elected officials all gathered at Helen Bernstein High School for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life this weekend.
Organizers say the 24-hour relay represents the reality that cancer never sleeps. It raises funds to support free services forcancer patients and their families. Funds also support cancer research, prevention education programs and advocacy efforts.
According to the event's website, 139 people signed up for the program and have raised more than $34,000.
Among celebrities attending the event were Julie Berman, Lisa LoCicero and Nancy Lee of ABC-TV’s General Hospital.
“I know unfortunately there probably is not a family in the whole wide world who has not been touched by this,” Lisa LoCicero said.
She added her mother is a two-time cancer survivor and thanked events such as Relay for Life for raising awareness and money to make recoveries like her mothers possibe.
Councilman Tom LaBonge and his wife Bridget, a five-year breast cancer survivor, also spoke at the event.
“I first walked in my first relay because during my first treatment, like many of us know, it is difficult to walk," Bridget LaBonge said. "When you recover, it is so important to get healthy and stay strong and walk for those who can’t and those who weren’t able to survive cancer. So hopefully when you are walking, everyone hear thinks about someone that you are here for.”
Marie Zoutomou, a Costa Mesa resident and stage three breast cancer survivor, said after being diagnosed with stage three cancer a few years ago, she moved out to California for a job and was able to get insurance for treatment.
“Thank God, I just did my surgery and I am about to go do my radiation. I am just so happy to be here," Zoutomou said.
Relay for Life began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The event has since grown into the world’s largest movement to end the disease.
The Relay's closing ceremony is Sunday, July 31, at 8:30 a.m.