NANTICOKE — Luzerne County Community College provided the venue for Saturday’s fourth annual Relay For Life of the South Valley.
More than 80 participants making up eight teams along with several hundred friends and family members gathered to “celebrate the lives of people who battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease,” according to organizers.
From noon to midnight they walked the college campus hoping to raise more than $15,000 to be used for the American Cancer Society’s disease-battling research, said event co-chair Maureen Ryneski.
“Almost everyone has been touched by cancer in some way within their family or circle of friends,” Ryneski said. “Cancer knows no boundaries.”
The relay honors survivors, caregivers as well as those who lost their battle, she said.
A community event, the relay included live entertainment, food and other goods sold by the teams, games for the young ones, a luminaria event and a “cakewalk” in which the winner earned the right to eat a piece of their favorite cake, Ryneski added.
During the opening ceremony, participants shared stories and messages of hope. The luminaria served as a moving tribute to those facing the difficulties of grief and loss associated with cancer, she said, but everyone made an emotional commitment to continue their fight.
“The teams were made up of individuals who had someone with cancer close to their heart. It’s an opportunity for them to give back,” she said.
Each team focused on a specific decade as part of the event’s theme, said Megan Filak, Relay for Life specialist at the ACS office in Scranton. They dressed in period garb, played music from their decade and displayed various items from their time period.
With names like The Go-Gos, The Daddy-O’s, Groovy Geeks, Soul Train and Beatlemania, they were out to have some fun, she said.
“The relays take on the life of the host community,” she said. “Although the Nanticoke area is comparatively, small the people make the event fun,” she said.
“When cancer touches someone, it’s personal,” Filak said. “It inspires them to get involved is their own way.”
The college also played a large role in getting the South Valley relay going as it is gaining momentum and getting bigger each year, she said.
“They embraced the relay as an opportunity to help the community. They are proud of their campus and are happy to share it for a good cause,” she said.
The South Valley relay is one of seven in Luzerne County this year, she said. Together they raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the ACS that is all used for the war against cancer, she said.