Hundreds of people circled University Boulevard on the campus of Texas A&M University-Kingsville last week in support of the annual Kleberg County-Bishop Relay for Life.
The Relay for Life is a fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society where teams of people camp out at a local high school, park or fairground, and take turns walking or running around a set track or path.
Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times, until the events end with the “Celebrate! Remember! Fight Back!” final lap at midnight.
The event began with a dinner for the survivors, the singing of the National Anthem and a short prayer before the “Survivors’ Lap,” where all the cancer survivors in attendance made the first lap around the boulevard before being joined by their teams.
Each year there is a theme for the event, and this year’s was “Betting on a Cure.”
“It was a Vegas kind of theme, and a lot of the teams were really good about decorating and making sure they had that Vegas flair going on,” Alexis Cano, publicity chair for the Kleberg County-Bishop Relay for Life committee, said.
Teams and volunteers set up tents with snacks, games and other activities for participants who were taking a break from walking during the event.
The survivors also had their own activities including a cakewalk, and bingo to win door prizes.
After the sun went down, the teams lined the boulevard for the Luminarias Ceremony, including a moment of prayer, a testimonial from a survivor of cancer and the playing of a song for participants to listen to in silence, or sing-a-long to.
Luminarias, small paper bags fitted with candles, were placed around University Boulevard honoring the lives of those with cancer and lit in remembrance during the ceremony.
Cano said it was her first year being involved with the Relay for Life, and the experience was “incredible.”
“We live in such a small community and I know we’re all here for each other, but just to see the outpouring of support was amazing.,” Cano said. “My mother is actually a three-time cancer survivor. And I didn’t know that Relay for Life existed the way it does, until this year. So, to see how honored she was as well, you know, to know that there are people out there to support her. That was a great.”
On Monday, Cano said this year’s event raised $61,093.34 and had a total of 105 survivors participate. The top five teams in the event were The ZZ Tops, Team Celanese, CFAC, Franklin Welding Arc Angels and Heart & Sole.
Cano and the rest of the Kleberg County-Bishop Relay for Life Committee thanked this year’s sponsors: Texas A&M University-Kingsville, the Riviera Telephone Company Inc., BC & Addie Brookshire Kleberg County Charitable Foundation, Franklin Welding Service, Inc., Celanese, NEC Co-op Energy, Javelina Dining by Aramark, Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg, HEB, Flair Department of the Kingsville Woman’s Club, Whataburger, McFall Memorial Chapel, SouthPoint Rentals LLC, Gypsy MC Int’l Kingsville Chapter, Bank of South Texas, NavyArmy Community Credit Union, Wells Fargo Bank, Gene and Jo Elda Castillo, Julie Lowry, Serenity Self Storage and Young’s Pizza.