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Just Write: Participating in Relay For Life always a labor of love

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 11:57 a.m.

It's not too often people are excited to stay awake for much of a 30-hour time period.

But at least once a year for the last several years I've done just that at American Cancer Society Relay For Life events, including this past weekend in Cranberry Township.

The only regret I ever have at these all day and all night events is that my grandmother — the reason I first started participating more than 15 years ago — never was able to attend an event with me.

In a world where we sometimes are forced to question the kindness of others, I'm always so inspired by being around a diverse group of people who realize the importance of giving to others.

Many Relay For Life teams spend all year hosting fundraisers and asking for donations to help fund programs and research.

All of that hard work is celebrated at once-a-year Relay For Life events held in more than 5,200 communities across the world, which serve as an emotional roller coaster filled with laughter, fun and tears as we honor loved ones battling cancer and remember those who have died.

It isn't easy trying to stay awake and find energy for the entire event — and I'll admit, I did unsuccessfully attempt to get a few hours of sleep crammed into my tiny car's driver's seat as the deejay played music.

But the aches and pains I face are trivial compared to the journey cancer patients and their families face.

Many friends (and even my family) don't understand why I would give up an entire weekend plus many nights and days throughout the year at meetings and other events related to Relay For Life, but I know I'm doing my part to help others who have heard the words “You have cancer.”

And while my grandmother might not walk beside me at these events, thanks to Relay For Life, she walks with me, always.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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