PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 26, 2014

A bell rings for victory; Relay for Life of Mid and South Jefferson County

NEDERLAND — On any other Friday evening, wearing purple at Bulldog Stadium would be considered a cardinal sin.

But this Friday, the stadium was a sea of purple, as 60 teams, 205 cancer survivors, and numerous others who have encountered cancer in some form gathered for Relay for Life of Mid and South Jefferson County.

“Without this event, a lot of people couldn’t get the help they need,” said survivor Christy Schlag, of Nederland.

A large purple bow adorning her shaved head made Schlag easily identifiable among the throng walking the track for the traditional survivors’ lap as Katy Perry’s “Roar” blared over the sound system. She walked beside mother Jenny Georgiou, also of Nederland. Both women are breast cancer survivors, and Schlag has battled the disease twice.

“After my second diagnosis, my daughter said, ‘People don’t get two miracles,’” Schlag said. “I’m proving her wrong.”

Relay for Life originated in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., when colorectal surgeon Gordon Klatt decided to raise money for the American Cancer Society in honor of his patients. For 24 hours, Klatt walked the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound, with friends paying $25 to join him for 30 minutes. At the end of the night, Klatt had walked approximately 83 miles and raised $27,000 for cancer research.

Since then, people have followed in Klatt’s footsteps worldwide, raising nearly $5 billion to combat cancer. At the beginning of the night, Mid and South Jefferson County alone had raised $150,000.

“I’m a nurse, so I see this every day,” event chair Stacey Jacobs said. “Seeing all these survivors walking the track — it’s hope.”

Diane LaPoint, of Nederland, placed a luminaria — a candle lit inside a personalized bag — along the track in memory of husband Jim, who attended three Relays after he was diagnosed with bladder and lung cancer.

After Jim died in August 2010, LaPoint found comfort in the event.

“When I’m walking out here, it makes me feel close to my husband,” she said.

Although the event didn’t end until 6 a.m. Saturday, LaPoint had no plans of leaving for her bed.

“I rock all night,” she said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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