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June 18, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, June 18, 2004

Relay For Life comes to Mountain View Relay For Life comes to Mountain View (June 18, 2004)

Walk-run event benefits American Cancer Society

By Julie O'Shea

Dozens of residents are expected to participate in Mountain View's first-ever "Relay For Life" -- a 24-hour walk-run fund-raiser sponsored by the American Cancer Society -- at Charleston Park on June 26 and 27.

"It's amazing. It really gives you a sense of purpose," said Mountain View resident Frances Reed, who started participating in American Cancer Society relays four years ago. "Once you do them ... it's really a special thing."

Thirteen teams of 10 to 15 local walkers and runners, including corporate teams from Wal-Mart and Google, will take turns walking around the perimeter of Charleston Park for 24 hours straight. Cancer survivors will christen the relay route with the first honorary lap. Teammates will set up camp around the park and walk in shifts throughout the night.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and will continue until the following morning at 10 a.m. Each team member has been asked to secure at least $100 in donations prior to the event, Reed said. This year's fund-raising campaign goal is $40,000.

But besides raising money, organizers say they also hope to raise awareness. Toni Stone, who is chairing the Mountain View event, lost her partner of nine years, Geri Roe, to ovarian cancer in January. Stone said ovarian cancer has vague symptoms -- leg pain, bloating fatigue -- and is sometimes hard to diagnose until it is too late.

Stone was a walker in San Jose's Relay For Life earlier this year and said the experience was emotionally "very difficult" and "touching."

"I wish my partner would have been there to walk the survivor lap," she said.

Relay For Life began in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash. when a man named Gordon Klatt decided to walk around a track for 24 hours. The effort raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society and started an annual tradition.

While both San Jose and Los Altos have hosted relays in the past, this will be a first for Mountain View, and Mayor Matt Pear will be on hand to address the crowd.

"A lot of people involved in this one are new to the event," Reed noted.

This includes Sue Murphy, a Mountain View resident whose husband, Tim, died of a rare form of lung cancer last year.

"I think this is a good way to honor Tim and help the American Cancer Society," Murphy said. "I think (Tim) would think it was a good idea, too. He felt life was extremely important."

During the day, organizers have lined up bands and dance troupe performances. There will also be talks from cancer experts and activities for children. At night, there will be a Luminaria Ceremony, where the relay course is decorated with white bags, sand and candles dedicated in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of a cancer victim.

"It's really very powerful," said Reed, whose own mother fell victim to breast cancer seven years ago. "It's my favorite part of the event."

During 2002-2003, 180 communities in California hosted a Relay For Life and raised around $18.5 million together, according to the American Cancer Society. The fund-raiser makes up 30 percent of the American Cancer Society's annual income and helps to fund cancer research, raise awareness and lobby legislators.

For more information on the Mountain View Relay For Life or to find out how you can sign up for the Survivor Lap, contact Frances Reed at [email protected]

E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]

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