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Relay For Life returns to Sanibel

By Staff | Apr 8, 2015

Relay For Life returns to Sanibel April 10 at the Dunes. Caring Stars include Captain Mary Ryan (seated/left), Mae Okipney, Lynn Frey and Laurie LaManna. Standing are Sheila Morley (left), Jason LaManna, Scott Frey, Ellen Patrick and Jan Burdick. PHOTO PROVIDED

Cancer survivors want others to have the same advantages that were given them.

After a six-year layoff, the Relay for Life event returns to Sanibel and will be held Friday, April 10, starting at 4 p.m. and running through 10 p.m. at the Dunes Tennis and Golf Club. The event will bring survivors, volunteers and participants to the Dunes that organizers hope will raise awareness and more than $50,000 in proceeds.

“It is personal for me,” said Marletta Short, a Relay for Life organizer who lost her parents to cancer. “Hopefully someday we can rid of this terrible disease.”

The Relay for Life event had been held at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers for the last six years. The Sanibel Relay for Life will complement the Fort Myers event.

“We missed it being on the island,” team captain of the Survivors Carol Strange said. “Our motto is ‘Relay like and island star.'”

Relay for Life organizers in Sanibel April 10 include Vilma Schwarz, Rachel Tritaik, Joan Sperry, Carol Strange, Jay L Solomon, Vicki Bundschu, Dave Dolly, Marletta Short and Izabella Spero. CRAIG GARRETT

The event will be a six-hour event, where survivors and participants walk a loop. Cancer survivors start the relay by walking the course and lighting luminary candles, which represent someone who lost their battle with cancer.

Caregivers then will join in on the relay.

“Everyone just supports everyone, it’s a great event,” said Strange, who is a 13-year cancer survivor. “I worked in pathology for 40 years and knew what cancer can do, then one day I was a patient.”

Strange has extra motivation in the fight against cancer, with her grandson being a cancer survivor, as well.

The Sanibel group of survivors, which meet once a month, will be honoring three friends who have passed on: Lesley Godly, Roni Freer and Barbra Toll.

“We are walking in their memory,” Strange added.

Mary Ryan is also a captain of the Care Givers this year, in which they have raised a good amount of money, as well. The goal of this year’s Relay for Life on Sanibel is to raise $50,000, which will go to the American Cancer Society.

“Anyone is invited to take part and will be welcomed,” Strange said. “Everyone has a story, too, and everyone here is there to give support. I didn’t think I ever needed a support group, but people need you for support.”

The cancer survivors group will offer much emotional support, as well.

“We’re there to tell you that you can do it,” Strange said.

Event coordinator Vilma Schwarz is pleased that the Relay event has returned to Sanibel. A small-town event tends to rally locals to a cause, she said.

“The word everyone thinks of with cancer is hope,” she said. “There’s always hope.”

Refreshments will available during the Relay for Life event at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, located at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel.

To donate, go to main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY15FL?pg=entry&fr_id=69054 or sign up. Or call Vilma Schwarz at (239) 936-1113, ext. 3914.