SAN MARCOS — It’s a long road to the cure for cancer, but in San Marcos, people are ready to walk it — one lap at a time. Forty-eight teams of residents and commuters, cancer survivors and friends, thronged Mangrum Field at Cal State San Marcos on May 2, in the city’s biggest ever annual American Cancer Society, or ACS, Relay for Life fundraiser.
“Look how many walkers we got here,” event Co-Chair Crysta Lopez said. “This is amazing.”
Each of the nearly 800 attendees had their own reasons for walking. For “Team O,” the Cal State freshman and transfer student orientation group, it was for a co-worker who had cancer. “Team Susie” was composed mostly of breast cancer survivor Susie Hampshire’s family.
Dale Goodale’s B cell lymphoma went into remission after chemotherapy seven months ago. The San Marcos senior patrolman walks to help others who have struggled with the disease. “When you first hear those words, ‘You have cancer,’ it’s devastating,” he said.
“I would defy people to tell me that they have no family members or close friends who haven’t been touched by this,” walker Steve Kildoo said. “That’s why we do this.”
The event’s organizers had worried that the sour economic climate would hurt the relay’s attendance. They were in for a pleasant surprise. Before the relay had even started, the fundraiser had met and surpassed its $53,000 goal, the amount raised last year.
“It’s a fantastic outpouring of love from our community,” event Co-Chair Enrique Perez said.
The majority of the money raised by Relay for Life goes to research in developing cancer treatments. Most of the rest goes to the slew of free support and treatment programs.
“For every dollar that we raise through the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, we spent 11 cents on administration,” ACS staff partner Leslie Roman said. “Charity Watch (ranks) Relay for Life as the No. 1 charity in being responsible with the donor dollar.”
2009 marked the first year the relay was held at Cal State, and by all accounts, it was a big improvement over last year’s event at San Marcos High School.
“Last year, we didn’t have a track,” Susie Hampshire said. “It was just grass. It was hard to push strollers and some people were getting hay fever and having to go home. We love it here.”
The university has already agreed to host next year’s relay on campus. Ultimately, Cal State plans to take over ownership and operations of the event via its newly created chapter of the national Colleges against Cancer organization.
More information on the San Marcos Relay and upcoming local ACS events can be found at www.relayforlife.org/sanmarcos.ca.