CALEXICO — Volunteers spread glints of purple throughout the community Monday afternoon to remind others of the pervasiveness of cancer’s reach as part of the Calexico Relay for Life’s “Paint the Town Purple” campaign.
“It’s for them to know that cancer never sleeps,” Calexico Relay for Life event chair Sylvia Bernal said. “Cancer is here 24 hours, seven days a week, and this is a reminder.”
The flowing purple ribbons were tied to posts, trees, business fronts and more throughout the city, leaving a small reminder of the issue that touches so many in the community.
Calexico has the highest number of cancer survivors in the Valley, Bernal explained, and it’s important for people to become involved in any way they can to support those affected.
The 24-hour-long Calexico Relay for Life event begins April 13 at Calexico High School, and 19 teams have already registered to participate. The event hopes to raise $45,000 this year, surpassing last year’s goal of $40,000.
The funds not only go to the American Cancer Society for research but also to locals in the form of mileage cards, lodgings during treatment out of town, wigs, makeup classes and prosthetic bras.
“The $40,000 we raised, it’s not enough for Calexico. Every service to do with cancer is expensive,” Bernal said.
While her mother already passed away from cancer, she hopes that one day, with a cure, cancer will be referred to as an obsolete affliction of the past.
It’s also important for people to know more about what support services are available, she added.
The American Cancer Society offers a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-227-2345 for those affected, either through being diagnosed themselves or having a loved one diagnosed.
Also, event organizers believe it’s important to let people know that it doesn’t matter how much money you make or your citizenship status to receive support through American Cancer Society.
Everyone that was cutting and tying ribbons Monday had their own story of how cancer entered their lives.
“I think that everyone in this group has a loved one with cancer or is a survivor,” Francina De Necochea Gonzalez said.
Calexico Relay for Life Luminaria Chairwoman Hilda Flores lost her mother to cancer, and her sister, brother and sister-in-law have all been diagnosed.
She smiled broadly while helping cut bright purple ribbons to be placed throughout Calexico.
“They remind us about the survivors we have here and to support the survivors so that they feel that they’re special,” she said. “We want people to know about the event and invite others in the community.”
Gonzalez herself has lost both her mother-in-law and an uncle to cancer, and another uncle is now going through chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.
“You feel helpless and so what do you do? You get people involved and raise money just to help them out,” she said. “The American Cancer Society helps so many people out, it’s uncanny. That’s why my husband and I are involved. There’s a passion.”
She said she was especially touched by Calexico resident Lorena Moreno’s own experience after being diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
“She’s inspired me. She’s young, has children, and we have to help her fight this,” Gonzalez explained. “This is a support people don’t know about, and what we’re doing today, this is awareness.”
Call Sylvia Bernal at 760-427-3976 for more information about Calexico Relay for Life.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com
2013 Imperial Valley Relay for Life events
Brawley Relay for Life
9 a.m. April 27 opening ceremony
Cattle Call Park
For more information visit http://bit.ly/BrawleyRelay
Calexico Relay for Life
8 a.m. April 13 opening ceremony
Calexico High School’s Ward Field
For more information visit http://bit.ly/CalexicoRelay
El Centro Relay for Life
10 a.m. March 23 opening ceremony
Southwest High School
For more information visit http://bit.ly/ElCentroRelay
Source: American Cancer Society Relay for Life website