If anyone has ever been touched by cancer, come out and support the Northern Palm Beach Relay For Life, co-chairwoman Candice Webb said. Webb, along with co-chair Vicey Patterson, helped to coordinate the event that is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Jupiter, Lake Park, Palm Beach Gardens and Riviera Beach will participate in this year’s combined Northern Palm Beach Relay For Life. It will take place Saturday at the Abacoa Amphitheater, 1200 Town Center, Jupiter, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
“They are combining the relay events so they don’t physically have as many employees,” Webb said. “Basically it’s to cut costs. The overall goal of the new CEO (Gary M. Reedy) is to double the amount of money (the event) has raised for things like research.”
Last year, the relay events raised about $2 million nationwide for cancer research, according to Webb.
In honor of her mother, MSNBC Emmy award-winning news executive Yvette Miley has been participating in Relay For Life event for the past 10 years in Riviera Beach. Miley was raised in the city and wanted to bring awareness to the area about the disease and how the local community can get involved to help find a cure.
This year she will participate for the 11th year with her family but in the new location.
“My mom (has been) a cancer survivor for nearly two decades,” she said. “She always taught us the value of hard work and we wanted to represent her and build a legacy of what she has meant for our family and the community,”
Miley said she and her family wanted to help Riviera Beach have a good showing at the event and they also wanted to find a way to give back to the American Cancer Society because of her mother’s victory over cancer. She also added that other members of her family have been touched by the disease and they all know that the outcome is not always a favorable one.
The Relay for Life is a fundraiser sponsored by the American Cancer Society that is staffed and coordinated by volunteers to remember loved ones who have lost the battle with the disease, honor survivors and raise money to make a global impact on cancer, according to the organization’s website.
“At this year’s event, we’re going to have more teams than we’ve had before,” Webb said. “So you’ll see more tents and we’ve got some great activities as well as unique, community-driven entertainment (such as) a student drum line from Riviera Beach, step teams and dance groups.”
The traditional luminaria ceremony will also be featured symbolizing someone whose life been affected by cancer. Webb said the white paper lanterns are decorated by participants and it is a very solemn and peaceful moment during the event. “It’s very beautiful. It’s a time for us to take a moment and remember people that we’ve lost to cancer and also honor those who are still fighting,” she said. “The lanterns are placed around the track and lit. The lights around the amphitheater will be lowered so that the only thing lighting the track will be those lanterns.”
Webb said there will also be a slide show of people from the community who have been lost to the disease.
Miley, 53, who works as a MSNBC news executive in New York, has made it a point to come home to Riviera Beach each year to celebrate her 87-year-old mother, Edna Whitaker, who beat breast cancer, and to support this event. “Participation became a rallying point for our family and our opportunity for the youngest members of our family and the oldest members of our family to get together around this event,” she said.
Miley’s siblings — George Whitaker, Julia Whitaker, Pamela Dawson and Gloria Scott — also participate in the event along with their children and grandchildren.
Miley said it is very important for “Team Whitaker” to represent their family at this special event.
“My mother is so proud of us for coming together to celebrate her and to say we want to do this as a legacy for her,” she said. “She is ‘tickled.’ But you can see her struggling in the ‘survivors walk’ each year to make it across the finish line. She is humbled by our commitment in her name.”
Miley said she thinks the American Cancer Society organizers are hoping for a more “robust” turnout with the northern Palm Beach County combined relay event. “We debated if we wanted to participate this year and I think the bottom line is it doesn’t really matter the location,” she said. “We prefer to be in our hometown of Riviera Beach but the goal is to represent our family, represent the city of Riviera Beach and give back to the American Cancer Society.”
Webb said whether you’re able to come to the event and spend money or donate money, just coming out and attending the event will be support enough. “Coming out and being there and showing your support for people who have been affected by this disease along with your family and friends, (will help us) try to fight back against cancer,” she said. “That’s the major takeaway because even if you’re just standing there in the crowd when the survivors go around and we celebrate them and applaud them while they’re walking the track, I think that overall is the most important thing.”
Miley expressed similar sentiments and said if anyone wants to get involved with the Relay for Life, all they have to do is show up.
“If you or someone in your family has been touched by cancer, just show up,” she said. “Your presence would mean a lot. Walk the track. Buy a hot dog or visit the other teams.” Miley said the event aligns with their family motto, “Faith, family and friends.”
Proceeds from the Relay for Life event will go to aid the American Cancer Society.
For information visit the organization’s website, relay.acsevents.org