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Community: Relay for Life sheds light on the fight against cancer

Burbank residents shined a light on the fight against all cancers with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, a 24-hour walk around Johnny Carson Park that began at 9 a.m. Saturday and ended at 9 a.m. Sunday.

“We walk for 24 hours because cancer never sleeps,” said Daniela Barragan, Relay for Life manager, who is based in the American Cancer Society's Burbank office.

The Burbank walk was organized by volunteer co-chairs Nate Frey and Michelle Jacobovitz and 22 committee members. More than 700 people registered. Each year more than 300 events like this are held across the state and 5,000 events are held throughout the country, Barragan said.

The funds raised go to cancer research and to services such as free wigs for chemotherapy patients and rides to treatment. Events were held throughout the 24-hour walk to celebrate cancer survivors, to remember those lost to cancer and to fight back against cancer.

Among the teams walking were “Chad's Champions,” in support of cancer patient Chad Becken, 37, and the “Dan the Man” team, honoring the memory of Dan Linegar, founder of the Burbank Relay event, who died from esophageal cancer in November.

Becken's illness proves that colon cancer isn't contracted just by older people, said his mother Susie Becken. People in their 20s and 30s should start getting tested, especially if there is a history of cancer in the family.

“A simple colon test can save your life,” she said.

A special tribute in honor of Linegar was held during the luminaria ceremony on Saturday evening. More than 500 illuminated paper bags lined the park, in the names of survivors those who had passed away.

Linegar was a huge supporter of Burbank Temporary Aid Center and ran its Santa's Room for five years, said Victoria Sands of Burbank.

“I feel this event is his legacy,” she said.

A section of the park had a display of white sheets decorated with multi-colored handprints made by survivors.

Veronica Hudson, cancer research coordinator at the Roy Disney Family Cancer Center in Burbank, knew many of the names.

“Seeing these patients' names — it's incredible,” she said. “They are so strong. They just keep fighting.”

For questions about cancer, live representatives can be called 24 hours a day at (800) ACS-2345. Seven languages are spoken.

City Council honors senior volunteers

The Burbank City Council honored six recipients of the Older Americans Volunteer Services Award on May 8 in the council chambers.

Honored were Julio Fernando de la Torriente, for his service with Burbank Temporary Aid Center; Marian Friedlob, for her service as the Joslyn Adult Center's Bridge instructor; Louise Downey, for her service to the Burbank Nutrition Program; Josefina Sauri, for her service at the Don Tuttle Adult Center; and Shari Ward, for her service as the Joslyn Adult Center's Hula dance instructor.

Also honored was Peggy Ray, who has been selected as Burbank's recipient of the County of Los Angeles Older Americans Outstanding Volunteer Service Award for her service with the Warner Bros. Retirees Club and the Mellowtones choral group.

Ray will also be honored by the L.A. Board of Supervisors at noon on May 23 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center Grand Hall.

Cartoon Network Studios screens film for students

Lillian Hughes, 10, her family and her fourth- and fifth-grade classmates at Stevenson Elementary saw the world premiere of the animated short, “Mr. Pike”, written and directed by Lillian, in the auditorium during open house on May 1.

Cartoon Network Studios produced the piece, as part of its Young Writers Program. Representing the studio at the premiere was Zita Lefebvre.

It was an exciting moment for Lillian.

“When the film started, my heart was beating real fast,” Lillian said.

The project began in the fall as a creative writing initiative for fourth- and fifth-graders and is part of 10-year partnership between the animation company and the school. Students were asked to write an imaginative narrative story and include illustrations of the characters, said Principal Debbie Ginnetti.

The teachers and principal judged the stories and narrowed the field to five, and then to one. Lillian's was deemed the top piece, earning her the chance to have the story turned into a two-minute animated film.

She worked with Cartoon Network illustrator Dave Smith to draw the story board and directed her family in voicing the characters. Her father supplied the voice of Mr. Pike, the substitute teacher. And mother Jennifer spoke the lines for Mrs. Ash and Chess Wood.

“It is just the best to see any kid's project get this kind of recognition, but to see your kid honored like this, that's the highlight,” Jennifer Hughes said.

Lillian's sister Phoebe, 12, voiced Bianca, the narrator, and Rotamere, the hero.

“It was weird to have my voice coming out of someone else,” Phoebe said.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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