On May 10, approximately 250 walkers went around the clock in the battle against cancer when the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of North Pulaski County got underway. When teams gathered at the Jacksonville Community Center at 6 p.m., participants helped the Society mark a major milestone in the fight against cancer.
“On May 22, the American Cancer Society celebrates 100 years of saving lives from cancer and creating a world with more birthdays. It’s the progress we’ve made together – as a community, as volunteers, as survivors and as leaders – that has helped us reach this incredible milestone with tremendous success,” said Jarred Gitz, American Cancer Society community representative for North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville.
Gitz said individuals who provided their support to the North Pulaski Relay event this year; they helped the Society’s efforts to continue the battle against cancer.
During Relay For Life, participants camped out overnight and took turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team was asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. “Because cancer never sleeps, Relay events take place at night and go overnight,” said Gitz.
At the event, the community’s cancer survivors were recognized and honored. One of the most touching moments during a Relay For Life event was the luminary ceremony which took place after sundown, honoring survivors and caregivers and remembering those lost to the disease. Participants circled a track that was surrounded with glowing luminaries that bears the name of someone who has battled cancer. Luminaries may be purchased for a donation by calling 603-5200 or by visiting www.relayforlife.org/northpulaskiar.
North Pulaski’s Relay For Life event also was an opportunity to celebrate the 100th birthday of American Cancer Society and the accomplishments in fighting cancer.
Gitz said the success of the American Cancer Society has included developing screening guidelines for mammograms, colonoscopies and PSA tests. The Society has also founded programs like Reach to Recovery, individualized breast cancer support, and services like Hope Lodge free lodging facilities in locations such as Memphis, New Orleans, Kansas City and St. Louis when cancer patients have to travel away from home to undergo treatment.
“The Society has also been part of nearly event major cancer research discovery since starting its research program in 1946, which includes discovering the link between smoking and lung cancer, certain lifestyle habits and cancer risks, cancer-fighting drugs and genes that cause or suppress certain cancers,” Gitz said. “The Society has also been involved in local cancer studies, like Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), and advocacy work for healthier communities and lives, including collaborative work on the Arkansas Breast Care Program.”
Funds raised at Relay For Life of North Pulaski help the American Cancer Society in these efforts to help people stay well and get well, to find cures and to fight back, he said.
“Today, two out of three people diagnosed with cancer are surviving the disease (for at least five years) and more than 400 people a day in the U.S. are celebrating birthdays that would have otherwise been lost to cancer,” Gitz said. “So, the American Cancer Society is using its 100th birthday on May 22 to encourage people to join together, make noise and take action to finish the fight against cancer. “
Relays for Life also will be held later this year in Conway and Greenbrier in August.
“ As the largest voluntary health organization, ACS’s efforts have contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates,” Gitz said. “Thanks to that progress, nearly 14 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year.”