Relaying a message of hope

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Stanton's Relay for Life 2014 at Pyles Elementary School Saturday had a larger-than-usual gathering of cancer survivors.

When Mayor Rigoberto "Rigo" Ramirez asked survivors to raise their hands, nearly everyone's hand in the audience went up.

Ramirez thanked everyone for being in attendance.

"Without your support, our Relay for Life would not be the success it is today," said Ramirez. "This illness strikes at any moment and regardless of your age and lifestyle it can impact all of our lives."

Stanton's Relay for Life 2014 at Pyles Elementary School Saturday had a larger-than-usual gathering of cancer survivors.

When Mayor Rigoberto "Rigo" Ramirez asked survivors to raise their hands, nearly everyone's hand in the audience went up.

Ramirez thanked everyone for being in attendance.

"Without your support, our Relay for Life would not be the success it is today," said Ramirez. "This illness strikes at any moment and regardless of your age and lifestyle it can impact all of our lives."

Ramirez said the relay is a time to reflect on those who have lost their battle with cancer, "And to support the heroes amongst us and continue the fight for a better tomorrow. This is an all-day, everyday, battle and I encourage all of us to create a higher awareness so that our efforts continue the trend of being more proactive than reactive."

Ramirez also said that with every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.

"This illness has done what religion and politics have failed to do and that is, unite people of all beliefs and backgrounds; together, we are one in this fight and together we will continue to make a difference."

Fr. Michael St. Paul, pastor of the St. Poly Carp Church and School in Stanton, offered a prayer in which he said, "Let us remember the survivors of this dreaded disease, those who walk with this disease and especially we remember those loved ones who have gone to their eternal reward; let us pause for a moment to remember them."

Some of the highlights included:

–DJ Lobo Jack from Riverside, consisting of Danny and Kris Lopez, were on hand to make the event fun and festive

— The first walk of any relay begins with the "Survivor Walk," to which Lobo Jack played, "We Survive," by Anna Baker

— Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva was on hand in the morning to distribute certificates of merit for those chairing the event as well as the committee members.

— In the evening, Emeritus chair Barbara Conibear gave thoughts of her experience working with the late co-chair Robert Davis, for whom the 2014 relay was named, "The Quiet Superhero — for he was that to us."

— Debra Knowles, who not only worked with Davis at Sam's Club in Stanton, co-chaired the position with Davis. "I'm grateful to continue Robert's work," said Knowles, noting that she had lost her own mother and her father-in-law to cancer. "Let's finish this fight," she said.

 — 2014 Chair Sara Neal-Brandt read a poem, "Hero," by Kevin Nowak, from his booklet "Bringing the Hope – Simple Poems for Hard Times" In part, the poem read: "You did not set out to be a hero but that is exactly what you are. In this battle we fight against cancer, you have helped to carry us far… you have gone through so much, so your battle could be won. To all of us, you are a hero, you are someone we all admire, you are someone with strength and spirit and someone with determination and fire… thank you for being an inspiration and allowing us to look up to you."

The evening culminated with a candle-lighted walk around the school's track with nearly 100 Luminarias lighting and lining the way, led by bagpiper Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Mark Lundquist with a pipes and drums band playing "Amazing Grace."
The bagpipe music seemed a healing and calming experience, as the evening darkened, candles went out, and the night went quiet in reflection.

There were lots of sponsors who made the relay possible, including Harry’s Café Owner Andreas Psaras who donated all of the eggs and other delightful ingredients for endless omelets for those attending the relay in the morning.

Manning the grill for the rest of the breakfast was the Kiwanis Club of Greater Stanton.Survivors are the reason Relay for Life is held; Relay for Life is a way to remember and honor those touched by cancer and it is the hope that through research, a cure can be found for cancer.

Neal-Brandt quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

The American Cancer Society is available to help at 800- 227-2345.

For Relay for Life information and to register a future relay team, visit www.relayforlife.org/stantonc