Relay for Life Santa Clarita will host its annual event on Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.

Cancer survivors take part in the Survivor's First Lap at Relay For Life. The first lap honors each person's battle against cancer and celebrates survivorship. Photo courtesy of Diana Sevanian

Hundreds of cancer survivors, their family members, caregivers and physicians are taking to Central Park this weekend to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society (ACS) and their work in the fight against cancer.

During the 24-hour relay, teams of supporters and survivors will camp out, picnic, cheer and take turns circling around a track to raise funds for ACS. The opening ceremony will feature cancer survivors releasing doves. On Saturday evening at 9 p.m., hundreds of luminaries bags, decorated by City of Hope patients and staff, will be lit in a silent ceremony honoring those who have lost the fight to cancer and those still fighting.

“It gives them (cancer survivors) the feeling that the community cares about them, supports them,” says Dr. George Hajjar, a medical oncologist and hematologist at the City of Hope in Santa Clarita. “I do tell my patients about it, and (tell them) ‘I hope to see you there.’”

City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. It is one of only 49 comprehensive cancer centers, with community clinics throughout Southern California. Founded in 1913, it makes research strides in the fields of bone marrow transplantation, diabetes and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs based on technology developed at the institution.

Relay For Life began in 1985 when colorectal surgeon Gordy Klatt spent 24 hours circling a track to raise awareness and funds for a local cancer charity. Since then, Relay For Life has become the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world.

Central Park is located at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road.

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