Cancer is an equal-opportunity offender, but not one that doesn't get plenty of courageous push back, as was evidenced by the well-attended American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Erath County at Faith Lutheran Church gym Friday night.
Kids, teenagers, moms, dads, grandparents and great-grandparents proudly wore their purple “Survivor” tee shirts to indicate that even though they had fallen victim to the disease in one of its seemingly-endless forms, they have beaten it or are slugging it out with cancer now.
As Mayor Kenny Weldon said in his remarks prior to offering an opening prayer, “There is not a person in this room who hasn’t been touched in some way by cancer.”
The atmosphere was definitely that of a party, as the Relay - which lasted from 6 p.m. to midnight - was attended by hundreds who were in high spirits and were obviously there to have fun.
After Weldon’s remarks and prayer, there was a lap around the gym by cancer survivors who were cheered on by the crowd and received lots of high fives.
That was followed by another lap by kids, teachers, parents and friends from Central Elementary School who had raised the most money for the cause this year.
Relay For Life was the creation of Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon 30 years ago in 1985.
The late Dr. Klatt, who died in 2014 of a heart condition at 71, and was a stomach cancer victim himself, was a marathon runner who ran around the track that first year for an astonishing 24 hours at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.
He totaled 83 miles that night while friends and supporters paid $25 to run with him. When it was over, he’d raised $27,000 and the Relay for Life was born.
The battle’s far from over, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction. As Sandra Anderson, a member of Faith Lutheran and a 19-year breast cancer survivor said, “Things are so much more advanced now; there’s just so much more than can be done. There’s a lot to be hopeful about and thankful for, that’s for sure.”