Addison Rivera received her first treatment of chemotherapy on her eighth birthday, four days after she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Addison thought that her mom made her pack her bags for a trip to Disneyland, but in reality, it was to start a journey that she would never forget.
Four years later, Addison won her battle against cancer and is now cancer free — but knows that many are not as fortunate. That is why she walks.
“It makes me really happy and really sad at the same time,” said Addison, “because we walked in and they talked about how much cancer affects you and it’s really sad to know how much I can relate to that … It doesn’t just affect me, it affects everyone. It affects my brother. It affects my mom. It affects everyone. It’s just so great to know that everyone just comes together … I’m so glad I could be a part of that.”
Thousands, including Addison and her family, joined together at the Relay for Life of Santa Clarita Valley on Saturday for one reason – to raise money to find the cure for cancer.
This Relay for Life of Santa Clarita Valley marked the 25-year anniversary of the event.
A tent was set up with photos and various published media for attendees to take a walk down memory lane.
For people like Laura Peach, she has had the blessing of being a part of the event in 24 of those 25 years.
“It’s absolutely beautiful, watching it all come to life,” said Peach.
Peach has previously served in many aspects of the event, from being a walker in a team, an event lead and now serving as a survivors & caregivers lead this year.
She said volunteers and members working for the event arrived at Central Park on Friday at 3:30 p.m. to set up and worked for four hours. They returned at 6 a.m. the next day to continue setting up.
The event had dozens of tents for attendees to go in. They varied from interactive activities, raffles, small shops, but all lent their resources in the fight for the cure.
Posters across the event read, “we remember the strength of those fighting,” “we remember the fight of the survivors and the love of those we lost” and “we remember, so we relay.”
All throughout the day, laps were taken for those battling cancer, survivors, those not present and for the future of cancer. One lap was taken in silence.
In the most unfortunate ways, cancer has become a bonding experience for those at the event.
“It will never not be a part of our lives,” said Cassandra Rivera, Addison’s mother. “Cancer just sucks. It just really sucks. There’s so many people, to know that there’s this many people that it affects is also very humbling. It’s a mixture of all the emotions for me.”
“It’s really nice to see, overcoming the journey and overcoming their journey,” said Peach. “It’s nice to have them gathered. It’s like one of the speakers said, it’s like a sisterhood or brotherhood with all the survivors and know somebody else shares a similar journey. You may not be exactly the same, but it’s a similar journey. It is nice to see all that.”
This year’s Relay for Life of SCV’s goal was set at $225,000.
Peach said that last week, the number was only at $70,000.
As of Saturday afternoon, the goal was met and exceeded with $237,811 raised towards the efforts.
All funds raised will be donated to the American Cancer Society. Peach said they try to make most of the proceeds stay locally.
Twenty-five years of Relay for Life of SCV marks a milestone as a continuous effort towards a cure, but it can at be looked at as 25 years with still no cure.
Addison views Relay for Life to emphasize how important it is that there is an end to cancer, that she hopes is soon.
“It means that really we just have to put an end to it,” said Addison. “Relay for Life, like you need to fight for life. That’s just really what it means to me. It’s so nice to know that everyone here also stands for that. I do think that pretty soon, it will end and I’m very hopeful.”
Those wishing to donate to Relay for Life of SCV can do so at bit.ly/44yR3mN.