Fighting cancer at Relay for Life

The sound of a simple tune from a Wurlitzer electric piano played from the speakers in the field house of Homestead High School on the night of March 23, 2019. Bill Withers’ soothing voice accompanied the key strokes joined by the light footsteps of 140 individuals who have been affected by the objective, ruthless, unforgiving disease called cancer.

The lyrics unfortunately hit home for too many during the luminaria ceremony. Sometimes in our lives we all have pain. We all have sorrow. But, if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow. Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. For it won’t be long, until I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.

Participants of Relay for Life walked lap after lap with illuminated translucent paper bags written with loved ones’ names who have battled cancer on the inside of the track. It was a moment of grief, but more importantly, a celebration of life. A life worth fighting for. Knowing that a cure is around the corner of more heavily supported events like Relay for Life.

Relay for Life started at 7 p.m. and gives students the option of staying overnight until 7 a.m. The night consisted of inflatables, a hypnotist and the opportunity for students to cut their hair and donate it to cancer patients through Locks of Love. The purpose behind all activities was to support individuals during their battle of cancer.

Chloe Stojovic, sophomore, participated in Relay for the first time this year and donated her hair to cancer patients.

“It was a last minute decision to cut my hair, but I’m really glad I did it because It felt good to help someone in need. Relay is an amazing experience and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t done it before,” Stojovic said.

For Payton Kuenzi, junior, this holds a special place in her heart.

“Cancer has a huge impact in my family, and it is important for me to raise money and help fight for a cure. I loved being apart of the fundraising process and planning the entertainment portion of the night,” Kuenzi said. Kuenzi has participated in Relay every year since she has been at Homestead.

The most important thing to remember about Relay for Life and the battle against cancer is support and love. Tony Navarre, a special education teacher, shared his support behind the cause and how it hits close to home.

It was an 18-month battle, and my oldest daughter, Adeline, was young. At the very beginning some family members were taking care of her,” Navarre said. “Every time I thought I would die I kept thinking  I can’t miss her going to high school, getting married, all the significant events. I was always focused on the fact I don’t want to miss out on everything important.”