Walkers hit the track to fight cancer
By Jaime Angio Correspondent June 15, 2013 8:46PM
Updated: July 17, 2013 7:22AM
The American Cancer Society Relay for Life was held for its 13th consecutive year in Joliet on Saturday.
Nearly 600 people, including 66 teams, came out to ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Jefferson Street for the 16-hour event. Energy and spirits were high, despite the humidity and a little drizzle of rain. There were tents set up alongside the field as walkers set up for a night filled with happiness, tears and hope.
Kevin McMaster of the American Cancer Society, said the city of Joliet really comes together for the event.
“We are to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who have lost their battle to the disease and most importantly, we are fighting back,” McMaster said. “We have a lot of wacky, fun theme laps, we have bands throughout the night, so we really keep the energy up, and it’s open to the whole community so anyone is welcome to join us, it’s free of charge and a family-friendly event.”
Walking with Courtney’s Crusaders was Claudia Krausey, 62, of Shorewood. This was Krausey’s 10th consecutive Relay For Life. Krausey is a cancer survivor who is walking not only for herself but for her sister.
“We are raising money for the American Cancer Society to help all people who are victims of cancer,” Krausey said. “ I’m walking for my sister Courtney, and she battled breast cancer for 11 years and she passed away two years ago — that’s basically why we started the team.” she said. “We enjoy the day. There is a lot of food, and it’s a very uplifting experience to be a part of the relay. It’s doing something positive instead of feeling sad about all the victims of cancer.”
Courtney’s Crusaders have raised nearly $150,000 throughout the years. A lot of work in raising those funds was due in part to Courtney’s daughter, Jenny Multas, 30, of Chicago.
“We started when (Courtney’s) cancer reccurred because she was diagnosed in 2000 and since then my mom would come out and walk the lap,” said Multas. “We’re very proud of ourselves for the money we raised.”
Multas said Relay for Life is an important event.
“For me, my mom, she was very sick for a very long time, she battled the whole the time, for me it’s something proactive that you can do, because everything else about the disease is very helpless.”
Team Second to None walked on behalf of Second Baptist Church in Joliet.
Cynthia Rogers, 48, of Joliet, said they’re hoping to raise money for a cure and awareness.
“We hope to benefit and be a blessing to others and that’s why were out here, and we’re going to do it until there is a cure,” she said.
Two members of Team Second to None were walking not only for past and present cancer victims and survivors of their church, but also for more personal reasons.
Gail Herron, 52, of Joliet, said her mother had breast cancer and her husband had brain and throat cancer. “I’m walking for my mom, my husband and everybody that’s affected by cancer,” she said.
Norvelle Steward, 62, of Plainfield is a two-time cancer breast cancer survivor.
“I’m here to support cancer research,” Steward said. “Cancer runs in my family on both sides. A cure needs to be developed, and we need to eradicate this thing, and no one needs to go through this — you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy.”
The afternoon kicked off with a opening ceremony followed by a survivors lap and a caregivers lap. Unable to walk, Rosemary Casillas, 56, of Joliet, took part in the survivors lap in her wheelchair. Casillas is undergoing intense chemotherapy for breast cancer.
“I found out in October the mammogram wasn’t right, then we did it again in November, then by December, I was diagnosed with cancer, and two days later they removed my breast,” said Casillas. “It was my decision to get rid of it.”
Casillas’ team, Pirates of the Cureibbean, was made up of 30 family members, including Casillas’ 13 grandchildren. Casillas previously walked the Relay For Life for family members — now she is walking for herself and for them.
“We have a lot of people in our family that have cancer,” she said. “I have two aunts that are survivors, and this past six or seven years we have four more cousins that got it, so when I got it I didn’t holler or scream, ‘why me, why me’, we just went with it. If it wasn’t for god and my family, it would be hard. You go through a lot.”
Relay For Life at Joliet Memorial Stadium runs until 6 a.m. Sunday. It’s a free of charge and open to the public.