[KHTS] – Thousands of people came to Central Park in Saugus Saturday and Sunday for the 17th annual Relay for Life of the Santa Clarita Valley.
The event started in Tacoma, Washington in 1985 with Gordy Klatt’s 24-hour walk in an effort to support his cancer patients and raise money for the American Cancer Society. This walk sparked over 5,000 events each year globally.
Santa Clarita’s Relay continues to be the largest Relay in Southern California and has recently been recognized as one of the top Relay’s in the world.
“We put on this event because cancer touches everybody. Take a look around no matter where you are… walk into a grocery store, find any person and ask them, ‘has cancer every touched you?’ 100 percent of the time they will say yes,” said Brad Peach, a committee chairman for the local branch of the American Cancer Society. “Whether it is a relative, a friend, yourself, a child, anything like that, cancer has touched you, and we don’t want it touching anybody else.”
In the 16 years this event has been running, over six million dollars has been raised for the American Cancer Society.
That money goes towards free services to those battling cancer and their family members, important research that will help people live longer and healthier lives with less suffering, and teaching people what changes they can make in their lives to prevent cancer now and in the future.
857,143 rides to treatment, 66,667 trials for a cure, and 12,000 stays at Hope Lodge have been given to those that need services over the past 16 years, according to the American Cancer Society.
“By the time my kids are adults, I’m hoping cancer will become a history lesson rather than a current event,” said Dr. Nimit Sudan, an oncologist at City of Hope. “I know (this event) will lead to that.”
“I’m so excited; it’s so great to see (cancer patients and survivors). They’re my heroes. They go through things that I don’t even know how they do it, but they do it. They’re just amazing people,” said Mindy Burgess, an R.N. at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
“(This event) is Santa Clarita, and Santa Clarita rocks. We have been to many other Relay events and none of them have got the heart or the passion that Santa Clarita has,” said Peach.
Every year, more than four million people come together at Relay for Life events around the world to support the American Cancer Society and help finish the fight against cancer.
To join the fight against cancer and donate to the American Cancer Society, visit their website.