Hundreds of people gathered at the Florida Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds last Friday night for Relay For Life, a movement of cancer survivors, caregivers, volunteers and participants who raised more than $73,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s mission of saving lives from cancer.
The six hour event included teams and individuals walking or running around a marked track, music, games, food and fun.
One of the top team fundraisers included Knights Elementary, who collected more than $10,000 in donations. Walden Lake, Cork and Bryan Elementary Schools collected more than $5,000 each in donations.
Event Lead Linda Herman welcomed the participants during the opening ceremony. “We’ve gathered here because cancer affects those we love,” she said. “We’re here to celebrate our cancer survivors and remember loved ones lost.”
In addition to the first lap taken by cancer survivors and luminary ceremony, another emotional highlight of the event was Plant City resident Chad Drigger’s remarks, who spoke of his son Jace’s battle with leukemia.
“In 2016 our lives changed forever,” he said. Dad was preparing to travel overseas on a mission trip when Jace, who was six years old at the time, woke up with stomach pain. As the pain progressed, the family decided to take him to the Emergency Room. While driving there, the family’s prayer was that it wasn’t appendicitis.
Their prayers were answered. It wasn’t appendicitis. It was leukemia. “We never thought we’d be one of those families whose kids had cancer,” he said. “He fought through the pain of chemo treatments, lumbar punctures and tons of hospital visits, the Lord was with us.”
Jace is now 13 years old and cancer-free.
“The American Cancer Society fights this horrible evil we know as cancer, by participating you’re helping families like ours fight cancer, you’re helping to fund research,” he said. “Please pray this horrible disease doesn’t affect you.”
Herman praised friends and family who helped make the event a success. “Oh, the great things this money will do,” she said.
To learn more about Relay For Life visit www.RelayForLife.org.