When Robert Faulkner’s wife, Sharon, was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2009, a devastating and frustrating chapter opened in both their lives.
“As a caregiver, you can give as much as you can give and you can love as much as you can love, but you still feel inadequate,” said Falkner.
Then a friend who was a co-worker and cancer survivor told him about the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and Faulkner discovered the event could help him believe “he could do something.”
Faulkner will be among the 41 teams composed of more than 500 participants in this weekend’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of the Greater Cranberry Township Area.
Relay for Life is a 24-hour event that celebrates cancer survivorship and raises funds for cancer research, education, advocacy and services, said Nancy Verderber, senior income development representative for the South Western Pa. region of the society. The relay will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at
Each participating team must have at least one member walking during every hour of the 24-hour relay. There is no limit to how many people may be on a team.
Faulkner said he researched the event to see if anyone had walked or run the entire time.
“I found out that the founder actually had, since the whole 24-hour theme comes from the fact that ‘cancer never sleeps,’ ” he said.
Following in the footsteps of the founder, Faulkner decided that he would attempt to walk or run the whole relay.
“I usually run about 35 miles a week and was training very hard, but then I got a new job,” he said, “This weekend should be interesting.”
The Relay for Life will kick off with a Cancer Survivors Lap and luncheon.
Activities are planned for the entire 24 hours, including a luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Saturday to honor those battling cancer and those who have lost their lives to the disease.
Designated as “The Hope Carnival 2011,” the event will include a variety of activities, games, food and entertainment for not only the relay participants but community members.
“Last year, we had well over 1,000 people attend at various times. That is what we hope for: to get the community involved,” said Verderber.
Teams pledge to participate in the Relay for Life earlier in the year, then raise money through donations, pledges, fundraisers such as golf tournaments and bake sales and personal sponsorships. They turn in their donations the first day of the relay.
In the past seven years, the Greater Cranberry Relay for Life has raised nearly $600,000, said Verderber.
Faulkner has been very low-key in his fundraising approach, asking friends to donate in Sharon’s honor. So far, they have raised more than $2,500. Their official team consists of Faulkner and his wife.
Sharon, who is in chemotherapy treatment, will walk the Survivor’s Lap with Faulkner and participate in other small segments. The couple has several friends who have signed up to keep him company throughout the event.
A key feature of this year’s relay is the “Road to Recovery Car Show.” Teams have been encouraged to create cardboard cars to display and “drive” around the laps of the park. The car show is to highlight the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program where volunteer drivers transport cancer patients to treatments.
Despite the prediction of the continued heat wave, Faulkner looks forward to the 24-hour walk/run in store for him this weekend.
“As small as this is in the big picture, I feel like I’m doing something,” he said.
Community members are encouraged to attend the Greater Cranberry Relay for Life. For a complete schedule of activities visit www.relayforlife.org/pacranberry. For more information from the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org or 1-800-227-2345.