By Kevin Kelley
Teens from St. Angela Merici Catholic Church and seniors from Fairview High School will be among those taking up the annual battle against cancer known as Relay For Life this weekend.
The fundraiser for the American Cancer Society takes place at the city-owned football field at Fairview High School, 4507 W. 213th St.
At Relay, teams of people take turns walking or running around a track to raise money from sponsors for cancer research and other programs of the American Cancer Society.
Mayor Eileen Patton is scheduled to speak at the event’s opening ceremony, set for noon Saturday. Then cancer survivors will be presented with medals representing their victory over the disease. Following the survivors’ walk around the track, they will enjoy a lunch sponsored by Cyclone Pitas.
Sarah Czerwien, who moved to Fairview Park with her husband two years ago, is the event’s chairwoman. At last year’s opening ceremonies, she spoke about her late mother’s battle against cancer. Cathleen Lane beat oral cancer in her mid-20s, but was diagnosed again with the disease at age 40. She died in 2006 at the age of 50.
“I ‘Relay’ so that no woman and no family will ever have to experience what we did and so that we will not lose such wonderful people to this terrible disease,” Czerwien said.
Czerwien is leading a team called The Cure Seekers. Other teams include the youth group from St. Angela Parish and Warriors Against Cancer, made up of Fairview High School seniors. In all, seven teams are participating in the fundraiser.
Various activities will be set up in the football stadium to entertain team members, supporters and visitors during the event. Carnival games, a bounce house and a dunk tank will be among them, Czerwien said.
“We’re trying to have a lot of family-fun events for the day,” she said.
A cornhole tournament will take place around 2 p.m., and movies will be projected on a screen after dark, she added.
The luminaria ceremony, named after the bags with lighted candles used to remember those who died of cancer or those still fighting it, will take place at 9 p.m. Saturday. Candles can be purchased for $10. A table will be set up to allow purchasers to decorate or write about the cancer patient on the bags.
The event concludes Sunday morning around 7:30 a.m.
The fundraising goal is $20,000, Czerwien said, a considerable step above the roughly $13,000 raised last year.
Donations can be made online at relay.org/fairviewpark/. The public is invited to come to the football field, cheer on the teams and made in-person donations as well, Czerwien said.
“We’d love to have as many families and people from the area come as possible,” she said.