PLEASANT GAP — The 15th annual Happy Valley Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society was held on June 22 at the Pleasant Gap Fire Company carnival grounds in Pleasant Gap.
This annual event is one of the top fundraisers of its kind in the nation. Hundreds of participants, consisting of teams of cancer survivors, families and friends walked laps around a course laid out around the perimeter of the carnival grounds, throughout the day-long event. The Pleasant Gap Fire Company donated the use of their carnival grounds for this event, and allowed overnight camping for no fees other than voluntary donations.
A silent auction was also held as an additional fundraiser in this event.
The Relay for Life honors victims fighting cancer, celebrates cancer survivors and raises money for the American Cancer Society. The relay teams work throughout the year holding numerous fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life events are held in more than 600 communities all around the United States, as well as in 19 foreign countries.
The relay followed a Dr. Seuss theme with a parody of Dr. Seuss’s famed book “Green Eggs and Ham,” saying “Cancer: not here, not there, not anywhere.” Some of the people walking laps were dressed as characters from Dr. Seuss’ books, such as the Cat in the Hat, the Lorax, Thing One and Thing Two and others.
Among the relay teams was the Fighting Flockers, so named for the flock of plastic flamingoes on the ground beside their tent. Each bird was painted a different color, representing the various forms of cancer. Yvette Richardson is the longest surviving cancer victim on the team, having survived breast cancer for eight years. Their team has been participating in Relay for Life for 10 years.
Another 10-year participant was the Calvary Beats Cancer team, consisting of members of Calvary Bible Church in Centre Hall. Their congregation has several cancer survivors among its membership.
The Generations Decking Cancer relay team is also a longtime participant. The team is composed of 14 members from three generations.
The team name is a play on words, as some of its members’ maiden names are Decker. The Decker family has been hit hard by cancer over a span of many years, causing the loss of several loved ones.
The Relay for Life presents a dichotomy of emotions to the observer. These are people fighting a life-threatening disease, yet the overwhelming mood of the event is an upbeat attitude of hope, optimism, gratitude and even a sense of humor, rather than one of despair. The participants treasure the gift of life because they know firsthand how suddenly it can be lost. Their attitude is admirable, and they serve as role models for those in the throes of battle with all forms of cancer.