Relay for Life event raises cancer awareness, remembrance
by Joe Shreve
Jun 19, 2014 | 1637 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ben Lomond residents Richie Solomon, left, and his daughter Jenna Solomon prepare for one of the costume laps during the Scotts Valley Relay for Life. Jenna Solomon, a now-sophomore at SLV High School, walked for nearly the entire 24 hours of the event, and covered 50 miles. Courtesy of Richie Solomon
Ben Lomond residents Richie Solomon, left, and his daughter Jenna Solomon prepare for one of the costume laps during the Scotts Valley Relay for Life. Jenna Solomon, a now-sophomore at SLV High School, walked for nearly the entire 24 hours of the event, and covered 50 miles. Courtesy of Richie Solomon
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More than 320 people walked to help raise awareness as well as funds for cancer research on June 6 and 7 during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event in Scotts Valley.

The event, now it its fifth consecutive year, featured 24 straight hours of activities and events to honor cancer survivors, as well as the memory of those who lost their lives to the disease.

The event kicked off at 10 a.m. with the survivors' lap, wherein cancer survivors and those currently battling the disease walked the first lap together in a show of solidarity.

Once the sun began to set, the lap became illuminated by the somber light of hundreds of luminaria, candles lit in decorated bags in remembrance of loved ones lost to cancer, or in encouragement to those still fighting.

According to Sheri Thomas, who was one of the main organizers of the event along with her husband, Andy Thomas, the event raised nearly $70,000 — the most yet in the even’t history.

“We're still receiving money,” she said. “People can still donate until the end of August.”

Thomas said 26 teams participated in the event, most with their own booths along the walking track that featured games, information, or other activities for participants to enjoy while walking.

One of the teams participating was composed of 13 students from the San Lorenzo Valley Middle School Leadership Team.

Led by faculty adviser Claire Hackett and organized by student Xan Daven-Thomas, the students have worked to raise funds for the event all year.

“The (students) did fundraising throughout the school year and raised $3,000,” said Hackett. “The goal was (to raise) $1,000 and we obviously blew that out of the water.”

Along with the 13 students from the Leadership Team, Hackett said that there were a total of 36 SLVMS students participating in the event, spread across the other teams.

“It was really a great showing,” she said. “We all wore our relay shirts to school the next day.”

Several of the students that participated, Hackett said, walked a total distance of a marathon — 26.2 miles — or more during the 24 hours of the event.

“We had several students that walked over a marathon,” she said. “Some walked over 30 (miles).”

None of them, however, walked as much as 15-year-old Jenna Solomon.

Solomon, a Ben Lomond resident and now-sophomore at San Lorenzo Valley High School, walked an incredible 50 miles.

To put that into perspective, that is the approximate equivalent of walking the distance from Skypark to Pebble Beach.

“She walked continuously for 24 hours,” said Amy Solomon, Jenna Solomon's mother and teammate on The Bean Team. “She basically walked through the entire night, helped clean up, and did her biology final the next day.”

Jenna Solomon said that walking that distance came about by accident. She said she had walked a marathon at last year's event and wanted to try something different.

“Last year I decided to walk a marathon,” Jenna Solomon said. “This year, my thought was I wanted to walk 24 hours — to continuously walk.”

At the Bean Team booth, walkers could buy a lanyard to wear, and — after each lap completed — were given a bead to add to the lanyard.

“I had 250 beads by the end,” said Jenna Solomon. “It's like two yards long.”

Jenna Solomon described the 24 hours spent walking nearly continuously, pausing only for the occasional bite to eat or to visit with friends — who would often join her for a lap or 30, all done in a pair of Converse All-Stars.

“I had lovely blisters everywhere,” she said.

When the sun came up on June 7, Jenna Solomon was still at it.

“People were so amazed by it,” she said. “I was ready to sit down and not get back up for a while but I felt very accomplished.”

For more information or to contribute, visit http://main.acsevents.org and search for “Scotts Valley.”

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