Relay for Life Fights Against Cancer

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Hundreds of people are laced up their shoes in Sebastian County for the Relay for Life. It's an American Cancer Society fundraiser dedicated to finding a cure.

"Children shouldn't have cancer,” said Kathi Ross. “It was an eye opener."

Kathi Ross says her six-year-old Benjamin was diagnosed with liver cancer when he was just three-years-old.

"He had a stomach ache,” said Ross. “He had no other symptoms. He had no fever. That was it, a stomach ache."

He faced chemo and made frequent trips to Little Rock for treatment.

"Go to Children's and take it out," said Benjamin.

This November he'll be three years cancer free. He’s tough little guy and an inspiration to many. He even made a song about his battle.

"Goodbye cancer,” sang Benjamin. “Goodbye cancer. Goodbye. Goodbye. Thank you, God. I love you, God."

Benjamin is just one of dozens of cancer survivors who came out to celebrate life in the American Cancer Society's Sebastian County Relay for Life.

"Both of us are cancer survivors,” Wendy Lambkin said as she stood by her husband. “John had cancer about 15-years-ago, bladder cancer. I had uterine cancer. I'm ten years out."

Events kicked off Friday at 6 p.m. on the UA Fort Smith campus green. The event runs until 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Fourteen teams have been raising money over the past several months to support the fight against cancer. Throughout the night, at least one member from each team will be walking a path at all times. According to the American Cancer Society website, Relay for Life Sebastian County teams have already raised nearly $30,000 for the cause.

"Over the last 27 to 28 years, the American Cancer Society has raised 4.5 billion dollars with relay," said head of Fort Smith Radiation Oncology Dr. Kris Gast.

Event Co-chair Maggen Watkins says this event is focused on giving people in the community a chance to celebrate those who have battled cancer, remember the people who have lost their fight, and keep fighting to find a cure.

"We do have a survivor lap at 9 p.m. Everyone comes out of their tents and really we honor those who have lost their fight with cancer, and we also have a chance to celebrate those who have made it through our luminaria ceremony."

The luminaria ceremony is when everyone will light a candle for a $5 donation to honor those with cancer. It's an emotional event for many, especially those with cancer who say the support from the community is overwhelming.

"There's just something about being able to do that walk and know I'm a survivor," said Lanbkin. "You're a survivor from the minute they say the word cancer to you. That's when you start fighting. That's when you start surviving."

Organizers are inviting everyone to come out Friday night and enjoy the events. If you can’t make it, but still want to help, CLICK HERE.

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