Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Teams' Walk to Beat Cancer in Relay for Life Event

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Teams' Walk to Beat Cancer in Relay for Life Event

Article excerpt

Mary Elwell, a third-grade teacher at St. Michael's Academy, was one of approximately 500 people who turned out to support the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life on Friday and Saturday.

Relay for Life is an all-night campout and lap relay to raise funds to battle cancer. Communities participate in this event by putting together teams consisting of walkers and fund-raisers. Throughout the two-day event, teams are expected to have a member manning the track.

Elwell knows the importance of raising cancer-research funds because she has lost family members to the disease.

Students at her school raised $800 for the event. They raised $700 of it in just one week through pocket change and by selling cookies and suckers shaped like lips. They wanted to "kiss cancer good-by" just like the 30-plus teams who turned out for the event.

"I was amazed at the amount of emotion not only from the kids, but their parents too," Elwell said. "I lost my mother and sister to cancer and I know it does matter."

Young students to senior citizens supported the cause despite inclement weather. During the 20-hour event it rained sporadically, but spirits remained bright.

"No matter the weather, people still have cancer," said Marybeth Pennington, executive director of the Nassau Unit of the American Cancer Society.

The event raised $55,000, bettering the goal of $50,000. Event proceeds will fund patient care, transportation, research and education.

Leslie Williams, a cancer survivor and an employee of First Coast Community Bank, participated in the survivors' lap. Each year cancer survivors walk the first lap of the event.

She and her 16 team members, who call themselves the boxing bankers, came to the event to help knock out cancer. They were joined by approximately 70 supporters.

"All of us will be remembering people who we have lost or who are fighting cancer," said Chip Townsend, a team member from the bank. The bank lost two employees to the disease this year.

Also among those walking was Laureen Grady-Robinson, a cancer survivor, whose hair grew in just in time for this event.

Later in the night, a special ceremony evoked emotion from the crowds. …

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