Local kids unite to fight cancer at Relay for Life

In 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt decided to marry two of his favorite passions — running marathons and stopping the spread of cancer by supporting the American Cancer Society.

Klatt ran for 24 hours straight on the Baker Stadium track at the University of Puget Sound in his hometown of Tacoma, WA and raised more than $27,000 to battle cancer. The legacy of Klatt’s first Relay for Life Event is alive and well 26 years later as the Village gears up to host the “Pinecrest Relay for Life” at Evelyn Greer Park from noon Feb. 26 to 8 a.m. the following morning.

Running under the stars to help fight cancer is essentially the theme of this overnight community celebration where supportive individuals and teams camp out, barbeque, dance to live music and take turns walking or running around a track to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Thirteen year old Palmetto Middle School student Alexander Buchwald was searching for a mitzvah or good deed project to do in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. Having witnessed the loss of family members as a result of cancer, Buchwald decided to join the Relay for Life efforts and this will be his second year as team captain.

“To be able to help people who have cancer and pay tribute to those who died from it or overcame it, or who have it now, is a way to do something about it,” said Alex Buchwald. “It really doesn’t take that much time to volunteer and do something for society and its fun to do something positive with my friends.”

Last year, Buchwald’s Team Skittles sold the most luminaries. After dark during the Relay for Life, candles or luminaries are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one with the name of a person touched by cancer. Participants then walk a lap in silent meditation. Relay participants describe this as the most dramatic and moving moment of the experience.

“We got involved because of Alex, who is friends with my children, Jeremy and Justin,” said volunteer organizer Lisa Arky Rabin. “We are all a group of moms that have been friends since our children were born and our kids are all friends from the area, students from Gulliver, Pinecrest and Palmetto. We are supporting what Alex wanted to do as his Bar Mitzvah project, and at the same time teaching them the importance of charity and giving back to your community.”

Recognized by Relay officials for excelling in fundraising and team participation, Alex’s 2012 Team Titanic has already exceeded their “sinking cancer” goal of $10,000 weeks before the event date by hosting garage sales and movie nights around town. Team Titanic is made up of 19 area youngsters — Alexander and Hanna Buchwald; Lucas, Liam and Ava Albelo; Sebastian, Matias and Ella Zelaya; Jeremy and Justin Rabin; Spencer and Alexa McWhorter; Ryan and Connor Spillman; Devon and Jakob Fehrenbach; Andrea and Victoria Sosa, and Enzo DeLuca. Parent supporters and volunteers include Becky Buchwald, Lisa Arky Rabin, Liz Albelo, Camilla Zelaya, Iko Spenvcer, Donna Spillman, Randi Fehrenbach, Isa Velez (Sosa), Michelle Dudley and Nikki DeLuca.

For more information, call 305-491- 7756, email <wibeked@aol.com> or visit www.RelayForLife.org.

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