Overcast skies and sporadic rain didn't stop determined cancer survivors and supporters Saturday from participating in the Relay for Life of New Baltimore.
The 24-hour event at Anchor Bay Middle School North off Washington Street kicked off at 10 a.m. with opening ceremony and a survivor lap around the school track. Event goals were surpassed with at least 603 participants and 38 teams who raised more than $92,000, according to early estimates.
“We’re just hoping it doesn’t rain so we can honor as many survivors as possible,” Chesterfield resident Kim Atwood said at the event.
Atwood is a skin cancer survivor who served as promotions chair at the relay. Despite the popularity of the event, she still hears some survivors say they don't participate because they don't want to draw attention to themselves.
“They have no idea how much hope this event gives people,” Atwood said. “You’re not making a spectacle of yourself (by participating).”
Nancy Gutowsky of Eastpointe joined this year’s relay. She said she became involved in the cause while she battling breast cancer more than a decade ago. She said that her diagnosis was shocking since she had received a clear mammogram, was physically active, ate healthfully and had no family history of cancer.
“Battling cancer, you learn the importance of life," Gutowsky said. "Life is the important thing … not the petty things in it.”
Throughout the day, scores of attendees walked the track, frequented various tents for individual teams, munched on food offered at different stands and took part in kids' activities like face-painting, moonwalks and more.
While there were scattered showers in the afternoon, that didn't prevent teams from taking to the track. As the rain stopped, kids flocked to the stage for a contest that was followed by the Fight Back ceremonies.
The relay ends at 10 a.m. Sunday, but, if you missed this one, there's another chance to get involved. The Relay for Life of Chesterfield takes place May 21-22 at L'Anse Creuse Middle School East.