Relay Volunteers Walk for Hope and a Cure


TODD KRAININ PHOTO FROM LEFT: Ray Castaneda, Casey Burch, Salina Hernandez and Robin Burch walk around the track at Warne Field at Brawley Union High School during the Relay For Life fundraiser event in Brawley.

BRAWLEY — Well past sunset, Mary Louisa Alvarado started reading names aloud into a microphone. The names were of cancer victims and cancer survivors alike. Throughout the field at Brawley Union High School, candles flickered in their paper bags. They spelled out “Hope.”

Called the Luminaria Ceremony, it’s a traditional part of the Relay for Life, a 24-hour marathon to support the American Cancer Society. It starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and goes to 9 a.m. Sunday. The ceremony comes at 9 p.m. — the halfway point for the relay.

“It’s a very beautiful ceremony,” Alvarado said earlier in the day. “It gives the participants here the opportunity to grieve their cancer experience, and find hope.”

Many of the participants in Relay for Life are motivated because either they, or loved ones, have been diagnosed with cancer. Linda Morse, the chairwoman for this year’s relay, said that her favorite thing was seeing the community pull together.

“We’re all part of the fight against cancer,” Morse said. Morse and her family participated in the first Brawley Relay for Life nine years ago. “Since then, my mom has been a cancer survivor, so that drives us,” Morse said.

Alvarado has also volunteered at the Brawley relay since it began. She said several members of her family, including her husband, brother and mother were all diagnosed with cancer. Alvarado herself has been a cancer survivor since 2001. Alvarado has also volunteered at the Brawley relay since it began. She said several members of her family, including her husband, brother and mother were all diagnosed with cancer. Alvarado herself has been a cancer survivor since 2001.

She says she volunteers because she knows what others go through when they get the diagnosis. “The world seems to come to an end,” Alvarado said, adding, “I feel the need because we’re a small community and we really need help for patient care.”

Partway through the Luminaria Ceremony, the candles are shifted. Instead of “hope” they spelled out “cure.” “And that’s what we really want, is to find a cure,” Alvarado said.

El Centro will hold its Relay for Life Saturday, April 5 at Southwest High School.

TODD KRAININ PHOTO FROM LEFT: Three sisters, all cancer survivors, Isabel Garcia, Grace Diaz and Trini Marlowe, cheer a passing walker in the Relay For Life event at Warne Field in Brawley. The sisters stand behind a memorial to their mother, Gracia Garcia, who died of uterine cancer.

Article Reprinted Courtesy of Imperial Valley Press

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