Volunteers walked through the night on Saturday to raise money for cancer research and treatment at the annual Relay For Life of Lehigh Acres.
The event, which benefits the American Cancer Society, began at 4 p.m. at the Veterans Park Academy for The Arts and ended at 8 a.m. Sunday with volunteers committed to keeping at least one member of their team walking at all times. Event Lead Melissa Summerall said it was the 11th year that the event had been held.
She said the fundraiser is important to the local community.
Froom left, Anysia Weicht, Brooke Turner and Ruth Albright at the Relay For Life of Lehigh Acres, which was held April 8-9 at Veterans Park Academy for The Arts.
"I think it's great to bring the community together, in general. Raising community awareness about the resources that (The American Cancer Society) has for them," she said. "We spoke about ACS Can, which helps provide rides to different appointments and treatments."
"We have survivors here, we have care providers here," Summerall said. "Anyone here who has been recently diagnosed or knows someone who is diagnosed can always reach out to someone who is here."
Many participants had personal stories about how the effect that cancer had on their loved ones inspired them to raise funds to help fight the disease. Alyson Nalewaik, one of the event's organizers, spoke about how the loss of her grandmother motivated her to become more involved in the Relay For Life.
"I was introduced to it six or seven years ago through my daughter's Girl Scout troop," she said. "But then I lost my grandmother in 2013 to cancer and after she passed away I decided to join the committee and really be a part of it and take up the cause."
Anysia Weicht, an eighth-grade math teacher at Varsity Lakes Middle School, headed up a team of student volunteers from the school's National Junior Honor Society. She said the school brings a group of eighth-grade volunteers to the relay every year and holds multiple fundraising events throughout the year.
She said cancer has impacted her life and the lives of her students.
"Each one of us has been affected either directly or indirectly by cancer," Weicht said. "For me, personally, my grandmother passed away from cancer two years ago and that was actually the first year I started participating and I've done it ever since."
Relay For Life was created in 1986 and now takes place in 27 countries across the world. Over the years, the event has raised more than $5 billion dollars for the American Cancer Society.