Brawley Relay for Life wraps up
Cancer survivors and participants of the Brawley Relay for Life take their final lap of the event after the closing ceremonies early Sunday morning at Cattle Call Park. (ERIC MILLER PHOTO / April 30, 2013)
Team Shelley’s Angels member Brianna Dowden has participated in the event for four years and spent the night in the park with many family members in honor of her aunt, who died from cancer.
“It’s just a good experience because you go through something and you can’t give up because you know that for people who have cancer, it’s not just a 24-hour thing,” she said. “We walk around the track for 24 hours, but they live with it their whole lives.”
An enthusiastic crowd cheered as event chairwoman Ceci Gastelo announced that more than $75,000 had been raised by Sunday morning, and more was coming in. The Brawley Relay for Life’s goal this year is $85,000, and she feels confident the goal will be reached soon.
“We’re not done,” she said. “We will continue and all of these teams have already vowed that they will help next year. We had 35 teams registered this year and hope to have more than that next year, if not the same amount.”
This year was marked by the addition of some younger teams, which she feels is attributed to increased community awareness.
“More people are becoming aware of getting diagnosed and checked at earlier ages,” she said. “It’s all around community involvement.”
More than 580 people participated in the event, and planning for next year’s Brawley Relay for Life is already in the works.
National Beef’s team took first place for fundraising, having raised roughly $15,000, with Kalin’s Posse following in second place and Family Circle and Friends taking third.
Cynthia Gutierrez of National Beef was the individual who raised the most while Patti Kalin took second for individual fundraising and Yaya Wagner took third.
Calipatria resident Kristal Barros-Daynes, 33, has been diagnosed with cancer five times. She originally was diagnosed with leukemia at age 12. She said that 17 years ago, a fundraiser was held for her, and the American Cancer Society asked her to help choose colors for the event. She chose purple, and the color stuck.
She stayed throughout the night Saturday and was visibly moved by the outpouring of support shown through the Brawley Relay for Life.
“It just shows that the community is really into showing their concern and passion for something that is really close to us as a far as survivors,” she said. “It just feels good to see all those people, to go and do what they do. They don’t have to be here.”
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org