Some walked because they are cancer survivors. Others walked because they lost a family member or friend to the insidious disease.
Hundreds of students, their parents, and teachers from Pines Lake Elementary School walked in the school’s sixth annual Relay for Life walk recently. The event, which raised $6,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS) last year, was held during recess.
Relay for Life is an annual event sponsored by the ACS. Traditional relays are held overnight. Members from various teams walk around high school jogging tracks all night to symbolize the never-ending fight against cancer.
Dayna Varano, 44, is a two-time cancer survivor. She had a brain tumor removed and was diagnosed with Breast Cancer before she turned 40. She’s been in remission for five years.
Varano’s youngest child was an infant when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I couldn’t even hold my daughter because I was so weak. I was so worried that she was going to grow up and not have any memories of me.”
Varano’s son Luca designed a pin to commemorate his mother’s battle against cancer. Varano is a member of the Young Survival Coalition, a national organization that works to educate and help women younger than 40 who are diagnosed with cancer.
“Something like this is so important for the kids to see,” Varano said. “They see that people living with cancer aren’t suffering, that they’re surviving. They need to see that cancer isn’t about death, it’s about surviving and living.”
“It is amazing what these kids do,” said Denise Scalzitti, a physical education teacher at Pines Lake and one of the co-organizers of the event.
The walk was the second Relay For Life event held in Wayne this year. More than 800 people at Wayne Valley High School in May. That event raised more than $95,000.
“It gives me a very good feeling being here,” said Kim Moore, a teacher at Pines Lake and a cancer survivor. “All of these people here, especially the kids, they are so supportive of everyone and proud of us.”