The past weekend’s race at South Lakes High School was one without a finish line. People from all over Northern Virginia participated in the Reston Relay for Life, raising funds for American Cancer Society’s mission of finding a cure and preventing cancer.
"We’re here to really celebrate the victories we’ve had over cancer, and in memory of brave cancer warriors who have lost the battle," said Reston Relay planning committee chair Kristina Baumler. "We’re here to relay for the future, so we could cross the finish line together," she said.
A number of local government officials and other dignitaries spoke to those gathered at South Lakes on Saturday afternoon. "All of us are in this for the same purpose, a cancer-free world," said Del. Ken Plum (D-36). Plum co-captained the "Top of the Town Team," one of the top fund-raising teams for the event.
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) said finding a cure for cancer is important, but even more important is preventing cancer. She said the General Assembly passed a bill during the 2007 session that requires human papillomavirus vaccinations for girls before they enter sixth grade. Howell said the vaccination would stop a virus blamed for causing 70 percent of cervical cancers. "Virginia is the first state in the nation to have a bill like that," she said.
Reston founder Bob Simon encouraged the participants to keep raising funds for cancer research. Advancements in medicine through research helped him survive his bout with prostate cancer. "If I had it 100 years ago, I wouldn’t be here," said Simon. "If you guys keep raising [money], we will have a cancer-free world," he said.
Gerry Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (D-At Large), said his 22-year-old niece was diagnosed with cancer, which is now in remission. "What you do makes a big difference, both in spirit and in giving everyone hope," said Connolly.
Reston Relay, an overnight event, took place at South Lakes for a 10th year. The school’s principal Bruce Butler said he hopes to keep that partnership going. "Community service is a big part of South Lakes High School, and all Northern Virginia high schools," said Butler.