The American Cancer Society Marco Island Unit kicked off Relay For Life at a reception hosted by the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort on Wednesday, November 7. The event was held in one of the Marriott’s Lanai Suites offering a lovely view of the Gulf waters and lush tropical foliage along a private walk a few steps from the beach. A cocktail reception buffet was provided courtesy of Porky’s Last Stand, Publix Foods and the Marriott.
Raul Medina, Chair of Relay For Life Marco Island, welcomed guests and committee members inviting them to view a brief video of the beginning of Relay started by one man in 1985. Dr. Gordon Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, wantedto honor his patients for their courage in facing their cancer diagnoses. He walked the track at Baker Stadium, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington over a 24 hour period raising money for a cure. In 1986 the first formal Relay was organized with hundreds walking for a cure. Today four million walk Relay worldwide.
Mike Tighe of the Marriott, described the hotel’s commitment to Relay through its Spirit To Serve program. The Marco Marriott ranked #14 among participating Marriott hotels in 2012 and the associates seek to raise that score in 2013. Mike introduced Judy Mayo, Co-Chair with Cathy Nelson, of Survivors/Caregivers. Both are associates of the Marco Island Marriott and participants in Spirit To Serve.
Judy recalled her experience with breast cancerand the importance of family support through surgery and recovery. She walked Relay with her family less than two months after surgery. Judy walked the walk again with her husband and daughters the following year before he lost his battle against lung cancer. She encouraged everyone present to continue the fight, emphasizing how much support her family has received from this abiding, life affirming program.
Raul introduced the American Cancer Society staff to the guests including the new Executive Director of the Marco Island Unit, Lisa Honig, Wendy Rivera, Administrative Assistant and Kathy Cleland, Area Executive Director. Raul recognized the outstanding work done by The Hideaway Beach Club Team in 2011 and 2012. Guests, Marsha and Roy Erickson of Hideaway, credited Hideaway residentBill Dean with inspiring his team to plan a number of successful events to exceed the Club’s own goals for Relay.
Nancy Brewer, Luminaria Chair, led the group in a brief candle lighting ceremony remembering family and friends who have lost their battles with cancer. A very special Luminaria ceremony with many hundreds of luminaries will be part of Relay in April, 2013, as it has been for several years.
Gloria and George Kas of Naples attended the Relay Kick Off. They maintain a northern residence in Chicago, Illinois. Gloria is a nine year survivor of breast cancer. Her mother was diagnosed after Gloria and her father succumbed to lung and brain cancer 12 days after his diagnosis. As an RN, Gloria recognized the seriousnessof her cancer early on and is grateful for successful treatment and recovery.
She commented. “We found this evening’s event very moving. It’s touching to hear people sharing, all to get to the same goal. I hope my kids never have to go through what I had to experience. I am so blessed to have my family.”
Marco Island community organizations, business and professional groups, schools, youth groups, all interested supporters are invited to form Relay Teams for April, 2013. Donna Cottrell is Team Development Chair and can facilitate organizing your team. Online Relay Teams are encouraged also and directions for startup are available from the Marco Island Unit of the American Cancer Society. Telephone numbers for assistance are: American Cancer Society Marco Island Unit: 239-642-8800 ext: 3890. Donna Cottrell: 239-970-3232.