With 427 participants, 33 teams and $78,230 raised before the opening ceremonies began, this year’s 13th annual Relay for Life event at the MIlford Middle School was a huge success.
The Relay for Life event helps individuals by showing them that comfort, healing and support can be found by sharing with others who have experienced cancer in some form in their lives; directly or through loved ones.
Opening the evening sharing her emotional and uplifting story, Cindy Eldred told of her family’s battle with her husband’s lung cancer and the continued fight for her own life when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer just three months after his death.
“All I could think about after my husband’s death is how am I going to survive this,” stated Mrs. Eldred. “I longed to take his place because I could not bear the loss.”
With the support of her colleagues and the unconditional love of her sister, Cindy found the strength to accept the passing of her husband. Three months after her husband Tom died, Cindy became a victim of cancer herself and now found herself fighting for her own life.
“I kept coming back to my husband’s life and legacy for strength,” stated Cindy. “I kept hearing him say ‘I am not afraid’. I am eternally grateful to have survived and still endure the loss. I have a fresh perspective on life and the knowing that I am blessed.”
Through her tears Cindy encouraged her fellow survivors and their families to honor their loved ones by raising awareness of the disease and supporting research efforts to find a cure.
The Milford Relay began with the traditional Survivors Lap, where survivors led the way around the track while participants honored them with applause. The survivors lap helps survivors realize their accomplishments and celebrate what they have overcome. The lap also gives hope and inspiration to others by proving that cancer can be beat.
As the sun set over the Milford Middle School stadium the night sky was bright from illuminated bags placed on the stadium bleachers. During the Luminaria Ceremony participants were asked to gather together to remember those who have fallen victim to cancer. Luminaria bags were decorated by participants honoring a loved one who passed or is currently fighting the disease. The bags were placed around the track with candles inside the bags and lit to start of the Luminaria Ceremony.
The Relay for Life event offers opportunities for participants to meet others who are as equally passionate about finding a cure for cancer, thank people who have helped with personal cancer experiences and make new, lasting friendships and memories. This year’s event marked another successful campaign by local residents in the fight against cancer as they raised over $80,000 and shared their stories in support of finding a cure. For the Relay for Life teams, preparations for next year’s events have already begun as they aim to increase awareness and support until their is a cure for cancer.