June 04, 2014 - "The relay for life is an opportunity for all of us to be the change, the difference," Dree Chartier told a large crowd at Relay for Life in Clarkston on May 17, an event to raise money for cancer.
"We are here to support each other," said Chartier. "We make this a special event for both survivors and care givers."
Chartier added care givers take on different roles.
"Everyone plays different roles," she said. "There is the teacher in the family who looks up all the information, the one who explains all the medical terms, there are people who keep involved from a distance and then there are the 'foodies' who makes sure everyone eats."
A teary eyed Chartier shared stories of loved ones stricken with cancer and told the crowd a story of her mother's battle with cancer.
After she told the story, she acknowledged there has been progress made over the years to fight cancer thanks in part to events like Relay for Life. Chartier recognized all the people who raised money for the cause.
Sponsors and largest fundraisers were presented a certificate of a appreciation for all their work raising money for the cause. Several participants, called "All Stars," each raised between $1,000 to $10,000.
The event raised $76,000 and was recognized as top 10 in the nation at an All American Relay event in 2013.
This year, 199 participants and 29 teams raised $61,750.
Cancer survivor Donna Clancy said she is one of the lucky ones who survived cancer.
"I'm alive to tell my story," she said. "I really don't focus on the bad a lot. I don't make it a huge part of my life."
Clancy added one of the reasons Relay for Life is such a great cause is it helps brings awareness to cancer.
According to the www.relayforlife.org, communities across the globe come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease.
Funds raised help further the fight against cancer.
Teams camp out overnight and took turns walking or running around a the track at Clarkston Junior High School.
During the events, which are sometimes 24 hours long, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times.
Every year, nationwide the event raises more than $400 million.
– Andrea Beaudoin
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.