On June 6, a group of people gathered around the campus near the administration building to support the cancer survivors that were participating in the American Cancer Society Relay of Life event. This is the eleventh year that the event has been running. This event was chaired by Gena Alfonso.
Alfonso lost her mom to cancer so she wanted to help with an event that can help fight cancer. The American Cancer Society started in 1985 and runs throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and many other nations throughout the world. The event helps to raise money for cancer education, advocacy, research and patient services.
“Most of the money earned goes toward research clinics that help fight cancer,” Alfonso said.
The money also helped bring in fun activities for the bystanders and survivors to participate in. There were activities such as a dunking booth, food sales, a pie eating contest, musicians and dancing. There were also three major events: the opening ceremony at 6 p.m., which included the victory lap for survivors and caregivers; the luminaria ceremony and the closing ceremony.
The opening ceremony began with the singing of the national anthem by Tabitha Rooney. Then Michael Salardino said a few words and turned the microphone over to Co-Chair Lori Heule and Chair Gena Alfonso.
Alfonso stated that there were 43 teams participating in the cancer walk and about $170 million was raised to help fight cancer nationwide. One participant of the cancer walk was Retzio Gredig who raised about $5,560 for the cure for cancer.
“I was 5 when I was diagnosed with cancer and I had a brain tumor. My parents took me to the hospital where I got radiation treatments. I have been cancer free for three years and I am now 8 years old,” Gredig said.
The opening ceremony ended after Gredig and the other survivors took a victory lap around the campus. After the opening ceremony, a few other events took place to allow everyone to get ready for the luminaria ceremony that was held at 9:30 p.m.
Rooney sang a few songs before the ceremony officially started. The ceremony had three speakers who read off the names of the many cancer survivors and those who have died from the disease. There will be 750 newly diagnosed cases in Pueblo this year.
After the names were read, Alfonso directed everyone’s attention to the bags that were lined up around the edges of the sidewalks. These bags were a tribute to the people that have survived cancer and in memory of those we have lost, she said. There were also flags that were planted around the big hope sign that was located north of the fountain.
The flags were there to also represent the people that will be diagnosed with cancer this year and Alfonso encouraged participants to each take a flag and commit to saving a life this year.. The events continued throughout the night and the patients walked all night.
“We walk all night because cancer never sleeps,” Alfonso said.
The last main event was the closing ceremony which happened at 7 a.m. The ceremony was a way for Alfonso to thank all the sponsors that supported the event such as The Frank Obert Memorial Foundation and many others. Alfonso also thanked the teams that were participants in the event such as Jones-Healy Realtors, PCC Health Professions, Wells Fargo Bank and many more. She also thanked the supporters and other citizens who came to support and take part in the event.