SALEM- Nearly 70 cancer survivors were hailed during the Relay for Life event at Salem's Waterworth Memorial Park Friday night.
The event, which runs 18 hours into today, featured 12 registered teams aiming to raise $71,000 for cancer research and awareness.
"We like to say it's a big party celebrating life," said Bryon Anzevino, community engagement coordinator for the greater Youngstown area.
Cancer survivors kick off the Salem Relay for Life Friday night at Waterworth Memorial Park. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)
Kicking off with a survivor's lap, the event included a luminary ceremony and screen show memorializing those lost to the disease and honoring those who have overcome it. There was also food and activities for family and friends to enjoy throughout event.
Anzevino said that money raised also goes toward local cancer programs at the Salem Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and researchers in Ohio, the nearest of which is at Kent State University.
Prior to the walk, city council President K. Bret Apple read a proclamation designating Friday as the 2014 Relay for Life.
SRMC CEO Anita Hackstedde MD followed with the keynote speech, reminding those in attendance that Relay for Life is a time to "gather to celebrate, to remember and to fight back."
"Today is special, because today is not about a disease; it is about our family, our friends and our neighbors," she said. "It is also about the magic that we can create when we join together for one purpose- to make one dream a reality."
Hackstedde said that dream is a cure for cancer and with 1.7 million new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in 2014, everybody needs to continue to dream bigger.
"These are not merely statistics, these are our loved ones, our families, our friends and our neighbors," she said. "So today we will join together to wish upon a cure, for when this dream becomes a reality- and it will- this will be the greatest magic of all."