- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
High school graduation “Senior Week” in Ocean City ended early for Beth Stephens of Huntingtown and her friends.
They left early to join the more than 1,700 participants in the 2012 Calvert County Relay For Life, held Friday evening at Hallowing Point Park in Prince Frederick.
According to the event’s website, the event totaled 1,789 participants, 128 teams and raised $316,876 for the American Cancer Society.
Stephens said she and her team of 10, “Hooked on Hope,” raised about $1,100 in honor of a family friend, Tony Prestandrea, who Stephens said lost his battle with pancreatic cancer two years ago.
Stephens described him as a retired police officer, former teacher “and a father and a husband and an all around awesome guy.”
Stephens said her team raised money by selling hats that they crocheted themselves.
“I was doing some crocheting on the beach to get some last-minute hats in,” she said.
Severn resident Sally Simpson said she came into the event prepared for an emotional night; she is a three-year cancer survivor and said her disease has reoccurred five times since 1993.
“We walk because I can walk,” said Simpson, whose team was called “Family and Friends 4 The Cure.”
“Most of my mom’s family we’ve lost to cancer,” Simpson said, continuing of her own reoccurrences, “I take it like a grain of salt. Just do what you’ve got to do and get it over with.”
She said she has done about seven Relay For Life walks in both Calvert and Anne Arundel counties.
The team “Myrtle’s Footprints” was recorded as of Monday morning as being the second highest fundraising team — Team ALLIDAP was the first — and the team’s captain, Tracy Atherton of Prince Frederick, said Myrtle, her late mom, would have loved what Relay stood for.
Atherton said Myrtle died of lung cancer in June 2009 at age 64.
“She was very giving and she would love this,” Atherton said. “It’s very important to us. We look forward to it all year long and we stay up all night.”
Atherton’s kids, Grace, 7, and Samuel, 9, said their grandmother was on their mind Friday evening.
“I would come over to her house and she would give me something — a little necklace or a bracelet,” Grace said.
Atherton said most of her team’s money was raised through her family’s business, in which she said her father matched all of his vendors’ donations.
The setup of Relay For Life started on Friday at 11 a.m. and registration opened at 3 p.m.
The event lasted until 5:45 a.m. on Saturday and included a survivors’ lap; a luminaria ceremony; soccer and volleyball tournaments; and music performances.
Betsy Jackson of Breezy Point said the survivors’ lap was always the highlight of the event for her as she’s a six-year breast cancer survivor and her husband is a nine-year leukemia survivor.
She said her team, “Hearts of Hope,” had raised a little more than $4,000.
“It’s very emotional. There are so many of us that are survivors that cancer has touched. It’s overwhelming to be part of this association, Relay For Life,” Jackson said.
Ben Banyasz of Huntingtown was a part of the Sneades Ace Home Center Team and said he was specifically walking for his uncle, Randy Gwosden, who died of multiple myeloma two months ago.
“It’s a sad thing, but at the same time you don’t want them to suffer,” said Banyasz, who was wearing a pin with his uncle’s picture.
He said it was his eighth year doing the relay.
“It’s always wonderful to come out,” Banyasz said.