Teams gear up for Niles Relay

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Niles Daily Star

The race for advancements in cancer research is nearing, as participants throughout the area prepare for this weekends Relay for Life event being held at Niles High School Saturday.

The event starts at noon and continues into Sunday, concluding with a special ceremony around 8 a.m.

While support for Relay for Life events continues to be strong throughout the country, in tough economic times charities sometimes see a drop in financial support, such as those funds raised by teams participating in Saturday’s relay.

But event organizer Dawn Lamson said that as for the Niles event, “it’s actually going quite well.”

A total of 59 teams so far are slated to take part in Niles’ relay. Four of which just signed up recently.
So for those who are still interested in putting a team together and participating, Lamson said, “it’s never too late.”

During Saturday and Sunday’s event, cancer survivors will be honored give hope to those battling and dealing with cancer when they take to the track with for the survivor’s walk and luminaria that light the way for walkers through the night.

“An important part of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life is the celebration of nearly 11 million cancer survivors who are alive in the United States today,” the organization states.

The ACS describes the luminaria ceremony as, “one of the most moving parts of the event…

“As darkness falls the night is brightened by the glow of illuminated bags called luminaria, each of which has a special meaning,” the website states. “Some celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer and have lived to tell their stories. Many remember the lives of those who have been lost to this disease. All represent someone special who has been profoundly affected by cancer and the family and friends who continue to fight back in their honor.”

The survivors walk and luminaria ceremony might have special meaning for participants like Lamson, whose son Derek is himself a 14-year cancer survivor.

It is that experience that Lamson, a nurse at Lakeland Hospital in Niles, describes when talking about the rewards that come from taking part in Relay for Life.

“Being able to give back,” she said. “And have that part of it and knowing that hopefully you’re helping somebody to be a survivor.”
Lamson said when she thinks of the money raised during the Relay for Life event, she thinks of how those funds could go toward research like similar to what went into her son’s chemotherapy regimen, “and that’s why he’s here today,” she said.

It’s that feeling of hope and accomplishment that Lamson hopes others will experience alongside her and each of the teams participating in this weekend’s event.

“We want people to come and be part of it,” she said.
There’s still time to donate and take part in the Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life event. Lamson said those interested in signing a up a team can go online and contact either Lamson at 683-3019 or Shelli Knoll at (269) 876-8915 for more information or for signup.