By Emily Crkvencic
Booths and white tables dot the track field. People from age 8 to 80 laugh in chilly wind. A cheer team sets up a display they had worked on for weeks. Purple balloons and banners wave at every corner.
This was the scene that unfolded on March 9th, 2018, at Countryside High School’s Relay For Life event. Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) signature fundraiser supported by thousands of communities and 27 countries to raise money for the ACS and promote cancer awareness.
“Cancer does not discriminate,” said cancer survivor Patricia Berko, as she moved boxes of soda to her booth. “1 in 3 will get it, so we appreciate all the help so much!”
Patricia Berko, with her daughter Hannah Berko, has coordinated and led her Relay for Life team three years in a row. “[My mom] is the one who I Relay for,” said Hannah, who raised over $1,500 for the fundraiser with her team this year. Hannah alone raised over $1,000 of the total money.
“I love Relay and the American Cancer Society. They are an amazing organization and without the money to fund all of this amazing cancer research, many people who are in remission now might not be alive, including my mom,” said Hannah.
Patricia Berko was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer–the cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow– on Black Friday in November of 2013.
“[We] went into Moffitt on Good Friday for the stem cell transplant– I took this as a good sign!” said Patricia. “It was caught quickly, and I had the stem cell transplant within 5 months of being diagnosed.” Patricia was declared cancer free in 2014 and will be celebrating her fourth year of remission on April 24, 2018.
“[The best part about Relay For Life was] knowing that so many people care for me and care for the American Cancer Society’s cause to help me out and do something that I love,” said Hannah. Both Hannah and Patricia plan on participating in Relay For Life for years to come.
To learn more about the American Cancer Society, Relay For Life, learn cancer prevention/ types/ treatments, or how to donate visit: cancer.org . To find out when the Next Relay For Life is near you, go to: https://secure.acsevents.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=relay_find_event .