Survivors, supporters celebrate at ‘Relay for Life’

Cancer survivors walk in the survivor’s lap during the Morgan City-East St. Mary Relay for Life Saturday at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium. Holding the banner, from left, are cancer survivors Joy Burns, Dewanna Besse and Pat Cavett.
(The Daily Review Photo by Zachary Fitzgerald)

Cancer survivors and their supporters walked around the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium for 10 hours Saturday as part of the annual Relay for Life symbolizing a day in the life of a cancer patient, East St. Mary Relay for Life Event Chairwoman Noel Birriel said.
The first Relay for Life event began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt ran and walked 83 miles in 24 hours in Tacoma, Wash., raising more than $27,000 for American Cancer Services, Birriel said.
Luminara bags were set up around the auditorium bearing the names of cancer survivors and those who died from cancer.
Allie Stevens, who has been in the area for several months on his rickshaw tour, spoke at the event. Stevens said he started his rickshaw journey in 2007 after his wife died of pancreatic cancer. He was walking on a pier in Oceanside, Calif., with a rickshaw and realized he could make a statement walking with the rickshaw. In 2007, he set a world record when he walked 147 miles with the rickshaw, he said.
Stevens, who is a cancer survivor himself, lost his daughter to cancer in 2013, he said. Stevens called his journey a “walk of faith” and also a walk to support cancer patients, he said.
Cancer survivors walked the ceremonial first lap followed by a second and third lap with survivors and their caregivers.
Event organizers also hold various fundraisers throughout the year in support of cancer patients and cancer research, Birriel said. As of the opening ceremonies for Saturday’s relay, organizers had raised about $25,000 during the Relay for Life, Birriel said.

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

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