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Cape Coral Fund Raiser.


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Those lost to cancer remembered at event

Annual fundraiser aims to reach $1 million goal

By Pete Skiba

pskiba@news-press.com

Originally posted on March 25, 2006

• What: Relay for Life

• When: 6 a.m.-noon today

• Where: Mariner High School, Cape Coral

• Schedule of events:

• 6-6:30 a.m.: Bad Hair contest

• 6:30-7: Wake-Up

• 7-7:15: Flag raising, national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance

• 7:15-7:45: Morning exercise with Mr. Deke

• 7:45-8: Advocacy and Cancer Control troops distribute sunscreen

• 8-8:45: Terry Lynn performs

• 9-9:45: Cross Point Church performs

• 10-11:30: Family Feud

• 11 a.m.: Hope Lap

• 11:30-noon: Raffle and drawing winners announced; final laps

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Lit candles inside paper bags decorated with crayon-drawn hearts, flowers, stripes and other designs glowed out of love Friday at Cape Coral's Relay for life.

Most of more than 1,000 luminarias, as the bags are called, represented someone lost to cancer but never forgotten. People lit others to honor survivors, caregivers and others who have felt, in one way or another, the disease's unforgiving touch.

"This is the time we fall silent and remember," said Terry Frith co-chair of the luminaria committee. "This is the solemn moment."

Children from Cape Coral Elementary and A Young Children's Montessori Academy had colored the luminarias, perhaps not fully grasping their meaning.

The luminarias meant a lot to Cape Coral resident Tom Rachel. He wrote a tribute in the blank space on two of the brightly colored bags. He had made a donation to honor family members.

Colorful luminarias await the lighting ceremony as participants in the 5th Annual Cape Coral Relay for Life march by on the Mariner High football field in Cape Coral on Friday evening.

"My grandmother died of lung cancer," Rachel said. "My wife is a breast cancer survivor."

The night's activities such as the survivor's lap around the football field at the Cape's Mariner High School and those planned for today such as music performances all centered on raising money for cancer research and care.

Relay chairwoman Carolyn Ireland said the event had raised about $250,000 by about 7 p.m. Friday.

"Oh yes, ohhhhhhhh yes, we're going to make our million," Ireland said.

The event has raised about $882,000 since its inception in 2002 for cancer research and education by the American Cancer Society. Relay officials hoped to raise $300,000 this year.

If the Oz booth with its yellow brick road was any indication, the goal would be met. The booth sold candy and pictures with the characters from "The Wizard of Oz" movie for $2. All the while it screened "The Wizard of Oz" in a little tent theater.

"We raised about $11,000 before we started today," said team captain and Oz resident Marybeth Rymer. "We are trying to raise $20,000."

Sandra Kyser, 50, a cancer survivor, carried the decorated spirit stick while doing laps for the team sponsored by Acra Electric Inc./Intergraphic/Realmark Group.

The hardy relay participants would walk around the field, pass their stick to the next walker and raise money until the final laps at about noon today.

"I'm doing this as a 26-year survivor," Kyser said. "I'm also doing it for my niece Courtney Hicks, who is 11 and survives six years after her cancer."

Local business owners and organization members took over grills to sell food and hot chocolate. People in the purple shirts worn by survivors walked the opening relay lap and later enjoyed music and food.

"We're just a group of Realtors, title people, neighbors and friends," said Jessie Leopard of Cape Coral. "We've been doing this for 11 years as Gayle Murchland and friends."

Murchland started the group and succumbed to cancer two years ago on Friday. His friends make the relay with him in mind.

His luminaria glows with the rest until dawn.

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