ESSEX JUNCTION, VT – Walking for those who have fought, or are still fighting the ultimate battle against cancer.
Purple shirts, the sign of cancer survivors, line the Champlain Valley Expo Friday night.
“We all wear the purple shirts, these are survivor shirts and if you see a purple shirt you know what we’ve been through,” said Jen Clark, the event organizer and a cancer survivor herself.
The Chittenden County Relay for life is the American Cancer Society’s Largest Relay in Vermont. It’s also the organization’s largest fundraiser world-wide.
“Our event raises about 300-thousand, next year will actually be 25 years for chittenden relay,” Clark says.
But fundraising for cancer research is a small part of what makes this event so special. Whether you’re a survivor, fighter, or remembering a loved one who lost their cancer fight, support is the greatest gift.
“You get the diagnosis you freak out you don’t know what’s going on, then you’ve got chemo and radiation and all the side effects of losing hair and there’s so many things that happen and you need that support system,” says Clark.
For 12 hours, hundreds of people with a common sentiment unite until dawn in celebration, coming one step closer to a cure.
“When you come here and you see all these people-even volunteers-it’s amazing how many people come together for something,” said cancer survivor Ellie Martin.
Bags lit with candles lined the paths of those walking. They were decorated with the names of loved ones.
16-year-old Ellie Martin was diagnosed with cancer. Her mother, Pattie, spoke about her daughter’s bravery saying, “you never know how strong they are until they go through something like this.”