Relay for Life Keeping Hope Alive in the Fight Against Cancer

May 20, 2007 — The sixth annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life, which kicked off Saturday night with the Luminary Ceremony held at St. Croix Educational Complex, looks to raise nearly $200,000 this year.
The ceremony of hope held at the track at the Complex is held for individuals to remember a loved one who fought and lost the battle with cancer and also to honor cancer survivors.
The theme for the evening was "Friends Helping Friends … Lighting the Way for a Cure." Lucy Rodriguez, chairman of the luminaries, said, "More than 1,000 luminaries were sold in remembrance of deaths and survivors of cancer. We may have made more than $11,000 in sales of candles and luminaries. We spelled out HOPE in the bleachers with the luminaries."
A skit was also performed at a table with an empty seat in remembrance of a person lost to cancer.
More than 44 teams, some with over 100 participants, took part in the 24-hour event by walking, jogging or running around the track. At least one team member had to be on the track at all times. Team members got monetary donations for their team.
Some of the teams were Banco Popular, WAPA, Schneider Regional Hospital, Airs Are Us, VIPD, Beulah AME Zion Church, Country Day School, V.I. National Guard, Warren Mosler's Valance Group, and the Buccaneer.
Close to 80 children from Pearl B. Larsen School participated in the event as a community service.
Cancer survivor families also participated. They included the Cuencas "Bunch." Paula Henderson said," This is a family affair, my brother Luis Cuencas and nephew Luis Jr. are survivors, and we are very thankful. That is why we participate. Even the youngest member of the family, age 3, walked."
The 27th Legislature had a team, as did Delegate Donna Christensen. Louis Jackson, chairman of the American Cancer Society, said, "We always have a very good cross section of the community participating."
Jackson went on to say, "Each year the event keeps growing with more sponsors and teams. The people who volunteer are amazing, and we want acknowledge a heartfelt thanks to everyone."
Marcia Payne, a thankful cancer survivor, along with her husband, Hugh, and son, Courtney, are supporters of the event, helping in any way they can with food and drinks.
Audrey Browne, relay chair, said, "The event wouldn't be possible without our community that is so dedicated to the cause. St.Croix Renaissance made a $2,500 donation today."
Locals also gave of themselves with entertainment, such as Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights. Musicians and dancers from Pearl B. Larsen performed, and the ROTC from Complex did drills. Local St. Croix Pastor Rev. Gilbert held Sunday morning services on the field, addressing cancer.
The theme for the relay was Hawaiian, and judging was done for the best decorating of tents. Also, awards were given for the first team registered and the team that raised the most money.
Treasurer Francine Cruickshank estimated the society would take in nearly $200,000, but all of the teams haven't yet turned in all they raised. Cruickshank went on to say, "We are very proud we have passed last year and this year has been a great success. We are looking forward to an even better year next year."
Participants all received balloons, and there was a release of the colorful balloons at 11:30 a.m.
The event concluded at 4 p.m. Sunday.

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