Cancer never sleeps, and neither did the participants in the American Cancer Society’s Bellflower Relay for Life event last month.
The global event that helps communities fund raise to fight cancer, brought out about 400 people in Bellflower. Together, 26 teams and 393 participants raised $147,001.51 – nearly $30,000 more than the campaign’s $120,000 goal, thus making Bellflower’s Relay for Life the 26th highest city fundraiser in the state.
Jeff Jones, owner and vice president of Admiral Pest Control in Bellflower, was again the top individual fundraiser in the city at $18,205. The Admiral Pest Team was second in the team category and 11th in the State, bringing in $39,736. They were beat out by next year’s Relay organizers, the Sole Sisters, who brought in $44,446.
Even extreme high temperatures couldn’t discourage the determined crowd camped out on the sports field at Bellflower High School.
“This year there were way more overnighters,” Jeff said. “There were more tents this year than I’ve ever seen before.”
Participants circled the high school track throughout the night, determined to “stomp out cancer,” he said.
“Cancer never stops – it never sleeps, and that’s the message in the walk,” Jeff said. “People walk the track continuously for the 24 hours.”
Despite the seriousness of the cause, laughter was never out of place as Jeff, who lost a points-raising bet: don a pink tutu for a portion of the walk.
“Contests throughout the day kept the day entertaining,” he said.
The theme for this year’s relay was “Why we relay,” Jeff said.
Pictures of family members who have dealt with or are dealing with cancer were on display in several booths.
“That’s what so awesome about this event – so many people are here to maybe help themselves down the line, if they get cancer, and to support their loved ones who have or had cancer,” Jeff said. “It really shocked me how many people were there who had never had cancer, so I think it was even more meaningful to have that many people come out at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night.”
Of the 53-member Team Admiral, eight have been personally touched by cancer –including Jeff, who lost his right arm and shoulder to cancer only two months ago. One member lost his battle with stomach cancer earlier this year, Jeff said.
“As a cancer survivor, you feel very supported and loved during this event,” he said. “I think a lot of people who survive cancer have a hard time afterward. But when you are going through the fight, everybody is real supportive and you get a lot of help…”
Having the right attitude is very important when dealing with cancer, Jeff told the crowd in his speech.
“I told them, “You can look at everything either as a positive or a negative, and you have to choose to be positive,” he said. “It helps you with your treatment; it helps you with your recovery. It just helps you with your overall life. You’ll be a happier person if you just look at the good and not always the bad.”