Beaming cancer survivors run under the arms of their caretakers and Relay volunteers.
Hundreds of students from rivals Langley and McLean high schools walked through the night of May 14 at Cooper Middle School during the Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS).
“We love our rivalry, but I love how you can see people from Langley and McLean meeting each other, becoming friends and working together for something that’s bigger than all of us,” senior and executive director from McLean High School Emma Chamberlayne said.
Chamberlayne worked for 12 months with her Langley High School counterpart, senior Will Pfadenhauer, and Relay For Life Community Manager Katie Sue Van Valkenburg of Oak Hill to oversee a committee of about 40 students from both schools to organize the event. The students recruited local cancer survivors to attend the event.
The night kicked off with the over 800 participants surrounding the track to cheer on cancer survivors doing a lap around the track. Smiles beamed on survivors’ faces as they ran under bridges of raised arms, holding hands across the track. But one lap doesn’t adequately symbolize the long-term journey of cancer survivors. A whole night of having at least one person from a team at all times on the track represents the ongoing battle.
“This is a never ending thing,” cancer survivor, Woodbridge resident, and Lorton Senior Center Assistant Director Kimberly Frengel said, comparing cancer to the relay. “People need to keep fighting cancer and funding more research so it can get to a point that cancer can be cured.”
During the relay, Langley High School junior Andrew Shapiro broke the 6, 12 and 24 hour world records for pull ups. Shapiro decided to seek the records in honor of his father, Allen Shapiro, who is fighting cancer.
Although the relay has a goal of over $150,000, even a small donation can help local cancer patients.
“If you donate to ACS, you might think you’re donating to a weird abyss of cancer research. You’re not.” Van Valkenburg said. “$10 can provide a ride for a patient to get to and from lifesaving treatment. Many people think they could just call an Uber. Some people can’t afford that and skip chemo rather than pay for the ride, so it’s important that someone donates that $10.”
The relay will continue to accept donations until Aug. 31. You can donate online at the Relay For Life of Langley McLean’s webpage: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY16SA?pg=entry&fr_id=71191.