Relaying an Experience on Relay for Life

Above and below: Participants in Relay for Life.

Annie Chen, Writer
September 26, 2012 • 478 views

By Annie Chen

San Gabriel, CA -The Relay for Life event happening in San Gabriel was basically an event to honor cancer survivors and to raise money to further aid the research for a cure to cancer. As people walked around booths sponsored by companies such as the Alhambra Medical Center, certain groups of people that have been sponsored would take turns walking or running around the track to raise money.

I originally went in as a volunteer because I was called in by a friend of mine who worked on the committee. Even though it was happening in my high school, I had no idea about the event. The structure of the event seemed pretty planned out – there were jumpers, activities, food trucks, speakers from the community, music, activities, facepainting, etc. The live music was one of the best parts, in my opinion, since there was a band on stage until about 1PM.

However, the only thing it lacked was people. It would have been such a great community & family event, but the only problem was that nobody knew about it. This event had a lot of potential, especially since it took place on the campus of Gabrielino High School, a place where students, family, and staff show great school pride by supporting school sponsored events. However, as I later found out from talking to the PTSA president, Mary Winchell, she had never even heard about this going on. There was no word in the community, were no attempts at spreading around the message on social media, and even I got word about it at the last minute – which was such a bummer because it was such a great event. I’ve volunteered a lot at carnivals and events before, such as at the arboretum and Kidspace museum events, the LA marathon, and at other local charity events. None of the events I have volunteered at around the San Gabriel area have had as much appeal – especially to teens and kids – as this one did. There was something for everyone. I think all of the people who did come took away something from it. Personally, I took this opportunity to network with members from around the community such as community leader Roy Rosell,Council member John Harrington, the cancer survivors themselves, and local restaurant owners, . It was a great chance to get together and meet people from all over the city that I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet otherwise. Everyone I met was also very passionate about helping the community, which drew us all together to the event.

I left the event around 3pm, but it lasted until about 9am the next day. Around 6pm, there was a luminara event where candles were put into hand-decorated paper bags, lit, and put all around the vicinity to signify the strength of the continual fight. Although I didn’t stay for this event, I did, however, drive past the school at around 2am and personally saw the lit candles scattered all across the field.

Overall, it was a very gratifying experience. I would love to volunteer at this event the next year – hopefully, this time, with more company.

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