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This year Santa Monica and Venice are joining forces for American Cancer Society’s 2017 Relay for Life.

The 13-hour event will take place at Santa Monica College on Saturday August 5 from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. The theme of the event is to keep walking, running, and moving in recognition of the long-term fight against disease. Organizers said cancer patients don’t stop when they are tired and for one day neither do West Los Angeles locals.

This is the organization’s largest fundraiser and has been going on for the past 37 years. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteer in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries.

“In May 1985, Dr. Gordon ‘Gordy’ Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, raising money to help the American Cancer Society with the nations biggest health concern: cancer,” said participant Alex Panagakis.

This will be Panagakis 7th consecutive year doing the Relay, and this year is different because Santa Monica and Venice have combined their ACS Relays to form a larger one.

“I do this because many members of my family have been afflicted by various forms of cancer. My grandfather died of lung cancer, my step father is a survivor of esophageal cancer, my mom is a breast cancer survivor, my father is a prostate cancer survivor and my brother in law died on stage three lymphoma,” said Panagakis.

Now he is determined to bring awareness within the local community. He is the team captain of Team Venice Beach Boys & Girls. After multiple years of participating he has found the event to be very rewarding in giving back to what his family and friends have suffered.

The event consists of various activities that raise awareness of cancer, as well as various collective laps around the track, including the survivor lap and a memorial lap. During a particular lap held after sundown every person caries a glow stick to pay respects to those who have passed away from cancer.

“People should care about the event because everyone in the world knows someone who has had cancer, who has cancer themselves, or who has died from cancer. No one is exempt from the various forms of cancer, it can strike a 6 month old or an 80 year old,” said Panagakis. “There are so many forms of cancer, there is not a cure yet. It’s a disease that needs an end put to it, and awareness is gold.”

The money funded from the event goes to cancer research, patient support, prevention, information, education, detection, and treatment.

“I love the ability to raise as much money as I can for the cause. As of today Team Venice Beach Boys & Girls have raised the most money, so we are very proud,” said Panagakis.


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