Truckee Relay for Life this weekend to build on $422,500 raised to fight cancer | SierraSun.com

Truckee Relay for Life this weekend to build on $422,500 raised to fight cancer

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — This weekend marks the ninth annual Relay for Life of Truckee Tahoe, which started nearly a decade ago after a local mother learned her daughter had cancer.

"With Jenny, we were just stricken, but Jenny's take on it wasn't, 'why me?' It was: 'What do I need to do to get through this bump in the road? I'm going to do it, and we're going to get done with it' — and so she kind of got us all through it," said Truckee resident Ruth Geresy.

That was in 2006, when Geresy's then-16-year-old daughter, Jenny, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Jenny has since been cancer-free.

It was also that year when Geresy sought to learn more about American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

"I sat there and listened and thought that is something our community needs," recalled Geresy, who is now a planning committee member for Truckee-Tahoe's Relay for Life. "Too many of us have been affected personally through loved ones and friends."

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In 2007, she and her husband, Don, and four others put on the first Relay for Life in Truckee, and it's since become an annual event.

Relay takes place this Saturday into Sunday at Riverview Sports Park and will include opening ceremonies at 4 p.m., followed by the survivor lap and then the caregiver lap, before the track opens for all participants to walk.

The luminaria ceremony will start at 9 p.m. to honor those who have lost their battle with cancer, who have fought cancer and who continue to fight cancer.

"(There's) just a sense of camaraderie and support, and there's a spiritual component I think to it," said Truckee resident Pat Callahan, a Truckee-Tahoe Relay planning committee member and cancer survivor. " … You just feel a sense of awe."

A closing ceremony to inspire participants to take action against cancer year-round is scheduled at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, with a pancake breakfast to be served by the Truckee Fire Protection District.

THIRTY YEARS OF RELAY

Truckee is one of more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries that host Relay for Life, which is celebrating 30 years this summer, according to the American Cancer Society.

In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash., raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight the disease.

Since, Relay has grown into the world's largest fundraising event to end cancer, tallying nearly $5 billion. Of that, Truckee-Tahoe's event has raised approximately $422,500 in its eight years, according to an American Cancer Society representative.

All dollars raised through relays go toward funding cancer research, services for those with cancer, advocacy, and education and prevention efforts.

"They've definitely made progress in my lifetime — tremendous progress, but there's a long ways to go," Callahan said.

For instance, since 1991, there has been a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates, which equals 1.3 million lives saved, according to ACS.

In addition, 14 million cancer survivors are expected to celebrate another birthday this year in part to the progress ACS has made.

"Kind of the goal of Relay with the research and the advancements … is that no one ever has to hear the words: 'You have cancer,'" Geresy said.

Callahan added: "It's a club no one wants to join, but there are sure a lot of good people in it.

"… My rational mind says because of the nature of the disease, it will never be eradicated, but it maybe controlled. My emotional side says, 'Let's kick it in the butt and get rid of it.' That is my hope."

Visit http://www.cancer.org to learn more ways to help the American Cancer Society.

If you go

What: Relay for Life of Truckee Tahoe

Where: Riverview Sports Park, 12200 Joerger Drive, Truckee

When: 3 p.m.-9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 25-July 26

Online: relayforlife.org/truckeetahoeca