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Community: Society warms up for its upcoming relay race

Community: Society warms up for its upcoming relay race
Volunteers for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life race in Burbank include, from left, Willy Donica, entertainment chair; Michele Higginbotham, team recruitment; Kerry McAloon, community outreach chair; Michelle Leiker, fundraising chair; and Erin Leiker, registration chair. Behind them is the Survivor Blanket created last year.
(Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Teams gathered to register for the 11th annual Relay for Life of Burbank during a kickoff celebration at the American Cancer Society in Burbank.

There were raffle prizes, refreshments and the Discovery Shop thrift store remained open so bargain hunters could purchase gently used items with their $5-off coupon. The Melt food truck grilled up cheese sandwiches and donated 10% of the evening’s profits to the cancer society.

This year’s 24-hour walk will begin at 9 a.m. on May 3, and continue until 9 a.m. on May 4, at Johnny Carson Park. Along with raising funds for lifesaving research, advocacy, education and free support services here in Burbank and across the country, the event celebrates those who have survived cancer and remembers those who have lost the battle.

The fundraising goal is $155,000, said Michelle Leiker, fundraising chairwoman, who added that 25 teams had signed up as of the kickoff event and 60 teams is the goal.


“Last year, we made about $130,000, taking us to over $1 million in the 10 years that we have been having the relay event,” she said.

The relay begins with survivors walking the first lap. Then, a luminaria ceremony will begin at 9 p.m., in which illuminated paper bags line the park walkways, honoring those battling cancer and remembering those who lost their battle.

Every year, the relay committee creates a Survivor Blanket. Survivors have their hands painted and then they press them on the blanket and write their name on it.

“We line them up on the grass so you can see all of them from past years,” Leiker said.


People who want to participate in the walk can register the day of the event. Those preferring to be spectators can just come to enjoy the day. Some come to walk after dinner for a couple of hours, and they get inspired to participate the following year, Leiker said.

For more information, visit www.RelayForLife.Org/BurbankCA.8.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at