24-Hour Relay for Life Attracts Hundreds in Fight Against Cancer

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relay-for-life-29-july-2011.jpg

Walkers circling the track at Baranof Park Friday evening, just after the start of the Relay for Life. Participants walked the track for 24 hours to raise money for the fight against cancer. See more photos after the jump. Brianna Gibbs photos

Brianna Gibbs/KMXT

While the sunshine was a great motivator, it wasn’t the reason why hundreds of people came out to Joe Floyd Track and Field at Baranof Park over the weekend. Their motivation came from a desire to fight back against a disease that had touched many of their lives.

Just as the temperature hit 70 degrees, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Kodiak kicked off its opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday.

relay-for-life-2-29-july-20.jpg (Relay for Life 1: :09 sec "Looking around at the … We’ve done it again.")

That’s Angela McFarland, the chair of this year’s relay who opened the ceremony by sharing why she participates in the 24 hour relay and fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

(Relay for Life 2: :43 sec "We all have a reason to stand here … due to cancer.")

As the opening ceremonies came to a close, those who had survived the battle with cancer were honored by walking a lap with family and friends. Their opening lap served as inspiration to those still fighting, but also brought a pain of remembrance to those who’s loved ones were not with them that day. Jessica Skonberg, the captain of team Walk this Way, said the beginning of the event is always the hardest part for her.

relay-for-life-3-29-july-20.jpg (Relay for Life 3: :23 sec "Two years ago, my … Being a part, so.")

Skonberg planned to stay at the track for the full 24 hours and was quick to say the event has become a wonderful demonstration of how close the Kodiak community is.

(Relay for Life 4: :14 sec "Just the fellowship … community that we have.")

While many lives had been touched by cancer in some way, the atmosphere of the event was that of celebration, and rarely sorrow.

(Relay for Life 5: :05 sec "Why do we relay? Celebrate, remember, fight back!")

Participants were treated to laps with themes, games and live performances, including one by Alaska country singer Kenny Peltier. At midnight, the crowds gathered for a luminary candle lighting ceremony to remember the lives lost to cancer.

While most took shifts throughout the event walking the track with team members, Kathie Morin walked for the full 24 hours, taking only short breaks every couple hours. As Morin made her way around the track during hour 23, she said her legs were very sore.

(Relay for Life 6: :38 sec "Why not, why not go … and if everything’s OK.")

Overall, McFarland said it was a successful weekend.

relay-for-life-4-29-july-20.jpg (Relay for Life 7: :44 sec "Well number one we had … thinking, um, just fun.")

By the end of the day Saturday, some dollars were still trickling in from online and weekend fundraisers so the total amount raised was yet to be finalized, but nearly $48,000 was counted by the time the event came to an close at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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