Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Owings Mills High School's oval racetrack yesterday to kick off the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life," a 14-hour fund-raiser for cancer research.
Twenty-seven teams of 10 to 15 people each were there to walk or run around the track -- one person at a time -- until 8 a.m. today.
It was the second year that the event was held at the high school. Another relay was being held simultaneously at Essex Community College.
Sponsors of the overnight event said they hoped to raise more than $100,000 for cancer research.
An enthusiastic group of about 30 cancer survivors walked the first lap of the fund-raiser to the song "I Believe I Can Fly," performed by Jaime Fox, the reigning Miss Maryland.
Denise Koch, news anchor at WJZ-TV and the mistress of ceremonies, said the event "was meant to bring hope to everyone who's ever had cancer that we can find a cure."
Many of those at Owings Mills High spoke of having a new sense of hope because of recent reports of evidence that a new therapy has eradicated cancer in mice.
"This very new, very exciting research has us all energized," said Dr. Ralph Brenner, a radiation oncologist at Sinai Hospital.
"We know we may have reason to really believe that each and every patient can be cured of cancer."
At sundown, hundreds of candles placed in white paper bags around the track were lighted to commemorate survivors and remember those who have lost battles with cancer.
While the relay was going on, team members created a community atmosphere by camping out, spending time with their families and friends, grilling late-night snacks on barbecues, and listening to live entertainment.
Pub Date: 5/17/98