The final week of June was by all means one filled with gloom. Not just the gloom of overcast skies that we Southern Californians are used to in the year’s sixth month, but the gloom that comes from the loss of iconic figures that have played a role in the cultural fabric of our lives.

While most of us didn’t know them personally, it’s a good bet that at some time or another we all marveled at the beauty of Farrah Fawcett, the talent of Michael Jackson, and the fact that over the years we received more mail from Ed McMahon than from close friends or family members.

While we still don’t know the circumstances that took the life of the King of Pop, we do know that McMahon and Fawcett succumbed to cancer, a disease that the American Cancer Society projects will claim the lives of more than 500,000 Americans this year.

This past weekend, as the light of the summer sun finally broke through the June gloom, Burbankers joined residents from more than 5,000 communities throughout the United States and 20 countries, to remember those who have been lost to cancer and honor those who have survived by participating in the 25th annual Relay For Life.

Co-chaired by Stephanie Ives, Maria Rynn and Ruth Bennett, Robert Gross Park served as the venue for the 24-hour event that was kicked off with Jacki DePiro’s rendition of the national anthem. Hosted by actor Sean Holland and actress Vanessa Villegas, Saturday’s activities commenced with an inaugural lap around the park by local cancer survivors.

This event, which included teams taking turns in walking or running laps, food, entertainment, a crazy hat and dance contest, and the moving Luminaria Ceremony, is staged to raise money for awareness and research programs of the American Cancer Society.

Among those who helped in making the event a success were Danielle Anziano, Lori Larson, Pam Nay, J.P. O’Connor, Victoria Sands, Heather Olson, Marti Kinson, Sabina Barrett, Dan Linegar, Liz Tholberg, Brady Griffin, Tracy Steinkruger, Marcy Bucy, Violet Nesbitt, Jenny Klocki, Char Sexton, Heather Warrick, Florisela Allen, Cheryl Asher, Dee Haramia, Pilar Scozzola-Tellez, Talin Tenley, Spencer and Randall Winston, Ani and Allen Aghamalian, Michael Keenin, Brook Wander, Savannah, Bailey and Jacqueline Simmons, Sara Padilla, Sheryl Buhr-Sanchez, Carolyn Haywood, Debi Ruiz, Erika Morgan, Edmundo Borbon-Leyva, Alice Wang, and Cynthia Paulo.

Others who came out in force were Mayor Gary Bric, Councilwoman Anja Reinke, Burbank Unified School Board member Roberta Reynolds, Don Baldaseroni of the Road Kings and Jennifer Wyatt, Brittany Martin, Joe McDougall, Sam Orender, Kim Nos, Sharon Cohen, Janice Lowers, Jeanette Meyer, Ruth Davidson-Guerra, and Joy and Michael Forbes.

 DAVID LAURELL can be contacted at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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