Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Claremonters join fight against cancer

Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back. This weekend, Claremonters and millions across the world will do just that at the annual Relay for Life, a philanthropy walkathon for the fight against cancer. The event begins this Saturday, April 28, at 9 a.m. and concludes at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 29.

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life began in 1985 as a way to raise cancer awareness in the community and provide necessary funds for continued cancer research. Today, that fight continues. Survivors, friends, family and supporters alike will gather at the Claremont High School Football field in a 24-hour march for the cause, symbolizing the battle that cancer patients and their families fight every day.

“It is a very powerful event, said Nusha Shishegar, co-chair for the Claremont event. “It’s a time to make a difference in someone’s life as a community."

Beyond raising money for cancer research, Relay for Life is about providing a source of comfort and support for those who continue to be affected with the 24-hour battle with cancer, according to Ms. Shishegar. “It brings a sense of connection and happiness to people who really need it,” she said.

While the field will be filled with at least one walker at all times, participants are also invited to take part in special scheduled laps. The event kicks off with a survivor’s lap, recognizing those who have fought and won the battle against cancer. Their caregivers are invited to walk in solidarity with them. A special “Luminaria Ceremony” later that evening will take place as a remembrance to those loved ones lost or those who have touched by cancer in some way. Throughout the day participants are invited to purchase luminaria bags, which can then be decorated in honor of their loved ones. These bags will be filled with sand and a lit candle, then placed around the field during the evening remembrance ceremony.

 The walkathon will conclude Sunday morning with a Fight Back Ceremony, pledging a continued commitment to taking action against cancer.

This year, Claremont Relay For Life will be using technology to help spread the word about the walk. Festivities include a Twitter lap, during which walkers are Claremont Relay for Life walkers will be invited to simultaneously post tweets sharing their experiences with other participants at different Relay For Life events across the nation. Participants will also get the chance to visit “the purple couch,” located near the field, and record a personalized message on a video camera set to record throughout the 24-hour event.

“The idea is to create a moving movie picture about what the relay is all about,” Ms. Shishegar said. “We hope that not only participants, but visitors who stop by will take the time to talk about their experience at the relay has meant to them.”

Food trucks, another new addition this year, will be available for both participants and bystanders with a 20 percent donation of all proceeds to the American Cancer Society. The trucks will be available at lunchtime from 12 to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items will be included.

“We are hoping even those who don’t plan on walking will come out and support us by purchasing food,” Ms. Shishegar said.

Participants can register online at or purchase an all-access pass to the event for $10 at the gate on Saturday. To make a donation or for more information, visit

“Cancer never stops, and it is something we have to actively battle,” Ms. Shishegar said, “But we are pushing back, standing up and fighting.”

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