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Relay For Life event supports cancer survivors, more

Eric Quade ~ Editor~ 4/23/2014

Survivors, patient caregivers and other supporters in the fight against cancer will be rallying in communities across the nation April 26 in separate Relay For Life ceremonies.
For the Cave Creek event, chair Joe Rostowsky and co-chair Mary Schramm will be leading activities at the Cactus Shadows High School track that Saturday afternoon starting at 4. In addition to walking, the event will include games, raffles, food and more for the general public.
Relay For Life is an all-night celebration of those who have struggled against cancer in some way. It can be traced back to Tacoma, Washington, where a cancer doctor wanted to get the community involved through an event that mimicked the ordeal of a sleep-deprived cancer patient.
Schramm said she became associated with Relay For Life in 2006.
“I was diagnosed with cancer, and I ended up attending an event and participating in the survivor part of the ceremony where you’re recognized—the luminaria ceremony where the bags with all of the wonderful, loving messages are lit up all around the track,” she said. “And for me it was such a healing experience that I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore, that there were a lot of people battling the same thing.”
That sense of camaraderie gave her strength in the face of adversity, she said.
“It just changed me,” she said. “It made me know that I could do something to fight—that things weren’t out of my control, that I did have a say in what happened.”
Schramm subsequently increased her involvement in the annual event, becoming the survivor chair of Anthem’s 2012 ceremony.
Although an Anthem resident herself, Schramm and others would also go on to support Relay For Life efforts in Cave Creek.
Also pitching in for Cave Creek’s 2014 program is Joe Rostowsky, who said that cancer has been a prevalent theme in the lives of his friends and family. His father-in-law and mother died of lung cancer. Several of his friends also developed cancer—some surviving, some not. Rostowsky made a point to walk with some of those survivors at the 2013 Relay.
“That’s the thing, [cancer] is all over the place,” he said. “I decided last year that I’m … going to have my own (Relay For Life) team this year.”
His degree of involvement unexpectedly jumped from prospective team leader to chair of the annual event about half way through the year.
Rostowsky said that Cave Creek’s Relay For Life raised about $70,000 with around 350 participants last year. With the midyear change in leadership, 2014’s Relay is behind last year’s benchmarks, but he is hopeful that things will pick up as the event draws near.
To find out how to become involved in the event, which supports the American Cancer Society, go to the Cave Creek event’s website at relayforlife.org.