Relay for Life of Salem was held on the track of Salem High School on Friday, June 15th, and thousands of participants brought their walking shoes for what has become one of Salem’s late spring traditions.
The event began at 5:30pm in the cafeteria with a Survivor Reception and lasted until 10am on Saturday morning. Relay brings together friends, families, businesses, hospitals, schools and faith-based groups to further the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives by helping people stay well, get well, finding cures, and fighting back. The event spans about 14 hours total, but the turnout supports the all nighter.
“Salem is one of the events where quite a few people stick around,” said Julie Satterwhite, Community Manager for the American Cancer Society in Western Virginia. “We will have over 200 throughout the night…it’s very much the hometown feel. It’s not a big corporate event. It’s very family friendly.”
One reason for that is the support Relay for Life gets from the City of Salem schools, government, and Parks & Recreation, in addition to the citizens. Satterwhite is thrilled to see everyone stand behind the event so strongly.
“Everyone is here for each other,” she said. “It’s not because a company said they had to to do it…City of Salem backs us completely. We get support with setup, throughout the event, donations, venues, they put bows up all along Main Street…the city has made it their thing that they want to do.”
“I will stay with this even when I retire from the city,” said Salem Special Events Director Kathy Murphy, who was on hand representing Salem Parks & Recreation, as well. “I lost my dad eight years ago to cancer, I lost a brother-in-law 13 years ago to cancer, and both my grandparents died of cancer. There is a personal aspect.”
Salem resident Nancy Gladden is a 13 year survivor of breast cancer and was one of the first to circle the track with good friend Diana Bird. She said is blessed simply because of timing.
“I give all the credit to early detection,” said Gladden. “I had wonderful doctors, and support, but the main reason was because they found it early.”
Gladden had two separate stints of cancer, one in 2000, and the second in 2003, but said she continued her focus on fighting back and tries to make the Salem relay annually. She was part of one of 47 teams that were on hand for the 2013 event, spanning from families to churches to businesses.
Satterwhite said during the event they have raised nearly $80,000 for this year, and you can still donate for 2013 by going to www.salemrelay.org
See photos from Relay here.