HESPERIA — As cancer survivors took to the front of the line and raised the banner, others waved their flags while Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” played in the background as they began to march.
The 16th annual Relay for Life 24-hour Walk took place April 16 and 17 at Hesperia Civic Plaza Park. With 17 teams and 355 people participating, the event raised $46,864.37, according to Tracy Moyer, who participates in the event every year.
The event began with an opening ceremony followed by a procession of cancer survivors, caregivers and those still fighting walking around the track in order to heighten cancer awareness.
Marlene Fuller, an event leader, said Relay For Life will also be hosting walks in Apple Valley (May 16), Big Bear (Aug. 20) and other areas of the High Desert.
“I’ve met so many people throughout the years, each one of them different, and to see so many people come out and support this cause is just amazing,” Fuller said. “If only one person leaves here today taking with them what they had learned today and applying that to their life, to me it still makes a difference. Let's finish the fight.”
Gina Villalubas, 48, of Hesperia, has been attempting the relay for a couple years now as she is a thyroid cancer survivor and her stepmother is a breast cancer survivor.
“It’s an amazing event. It means a lot for some many people to come out and support such a big cause no matter what kind of cancer one might have or is still fighting,” Villalubas said.
Along with the walk, the event featured music, special activities, contests and prizes, food and various booths set up to provide more information about certain types of cancer.
Teacher Kat Gentilvcci, who is fighting breast cancer, ran a booth along with her Hesperia High School students, calling themselves “Striking Against Cancer.” The booth was designed to inform people about prostate cancer.
“I began to come to the relays for my family members who are survivors,” Gentilvcci said. “Not many people are aware that one in seven men can get prostate cancer, as it is not talked about as much as other cancers. I’m just overwhelmed by all the magnificent people, especially younger people, here today to help support ways to come up with cures.”
Jamie Breiteo, 16, of Hesperia, said she started coming to relays a few a years ago with her mother, and enjoyed participating in the event.
“I think it’s especially important for the youth to get involved in something like this,” Breiteo said. “The youth nowadays are so involved with the world what what celebrities are doing and I would like them to know that there are bigger issues like these happening around them.”
Monica Solano can be reached at MSolano@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6231. Follow her on Twitter @DP_MonicaInes.