Organizers of local Relay for Life look to break records

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 25, 2013

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Each spring, friends and family of loved ones battling cancer, cancer survivors, and supporters of the American Cancer Society gather for 24 hours with the sole purpose of making a difference.

Whether it’s the solo participant or the spirited team of colorful personalities, the goal of Relay for Life is the same across the country.

“My reasons to Relay: for hope, for a cure, for my mom, a cancer survivor, all three of my grandmothers who lost their battles, so no child loses a parent, no spouse has to be widowed, so no parent loses a child, and so that we can end this sentence: ‘You have cancer,’” said Amy Gusho, event chair of the 2013 Harrison Township Relay for Life. “I have lost too much to this monster and I will vow to do all that I can to make it end.”

This year’s Harrison Township Relay for Life will be held May 4-5 at L’Anse Creuse High School, 38495 L’Anse Creuse in Harrison Township. The event begins at 10 a.m. that Saturday and will continue until 10 a.m. Sunday.

Relay organizer Margaret Villalobos said there are significant goals set for this year’s event, which has the theme of “Dream Big. Hope Big. Relay Big.”

She said more than $48,000 was raised last year with the help of the 15 teams and more than 500 participants, and this year the target is to simply exceed those numbers.

Money raised through Relay for Life events — participants ask for sponsorships and donations prior to their respective events — support ACS programs and services for all people dealing with cancer. ACS provides information geared toward helping those with cancer make treatment decision, better understand their disease and help each deal with the daily challenges, such as transportation and insurance issues.

“An important part of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life is the celebration of cancer survivors,” said Villalobos. “Survivors include anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Whether you are currently fighting your battle, or have been cancer-free for many years, you are a survivor. We also celebrate the many caregivers who have provided countless hours of care and support.”

In addition to walking laps to show solidarity, activities during Relay for Life include recognition of cancer survivors, who are asked to sign the Relay for Life survivor banner and be part of the opening ceremony and survivor lap, there are a variety of activities for children, and a lunch is provided by the Knights of Columbus.

Marline Jones, captain of the Angels Among Us Team, got involved in Relay for Life three years ago, after being asked by a friend to join.

“Then, I knew nothing about it,” she said. “I started to research it and thought, ‘This is for me.’ So I Relay in memory of my grandpa, my aunts, my friends and all others that have been touched by cancer.”

“I Relay because I made a promise to a couple people who are no longer with us that I would be their voice and fight back to cancer,” Jones continued. “I hope that someday that cancer will be treated like the common cold but not so common. The relay to me makes me feel good; like it’s my good deed. Being at the Relay is such an awesome experience. It’s fun and can be emotional.”

For more information about the 2013 Harrison Township Relay for Life or to get involved, call Liz Sawielski at (248) 663-3406 or event chair Amy Gusho at (586) 489-0839. Or go to and search Harrison Township.