The 24-hour cancer fundraiser Relay For Life began Saturday morning, first with music and speeches, then with a Survivors Lap that included a third grader from Harbor View Elementary School.
“When the walk began, I was thinking, ‘This is so much fun!’ ” said Grant Burgoyne, a Corona del Mar resident who was diagnosed with unilateral retinoblastoma six years ago. Walking with him were two Harbor View parents, Newport Beach Fire Capt. Jerry Strom and dozens of others in purple t-shirts.
Groups, or teams, set up tents on the grass inside the Newport Harbor High School track, where participants could grab snacks and cold drinks or, later tonight, catch some sleep. The mood was festive, with music, cheerleaders, balloons — even samples of sunscreen. There also were tears, especially during the caregivers’ lap, when those who had cared for and lost loved ones joined survivors on the track.
Newport Beach firefighters had a team, which included Capt. Brian McDonough, who planned to walk all 24 hours while wearing his full gear, as is the firefighters’ tradition. “It’s just one of those causes that the community supports,” he said. “The community is so good to us, that I do this to give back.”
Newport Beach police were represented, including by Jardo, a police rescue and drug-sniffing dog.
Newport Beach city officials and council members also had a team, including Corona del Mar’s council woman, Nancy Gardner, who kept a brisk pace as she rounded the track.
Nancy Gardner, CdM's council member, in the green shirt.
The event has raised more than $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. More than 50 teams, with about 1,000 walkers, participated this year, the eighth year Newport Beach has held the event. On Saturday, there were babies in the arms of survivors, and one woman, 103 years old, who participated by wheelchair.
Special events will run throughout the event. Tonight at 9 p.m., luminarias will be lighted in memory of those who fought cancer, organizers said. Closing ceremonies will take place Sunday about 9:15 a.m.
Corona del Mar High School had a team, as did Lincoln and Harbor View elementary schools, and families from Harbor Day School also participated.