It is not often that someone other than an elected official speaks before a Relay for Life kicks off.
But during a planning meeting prior to the event, , event chairperson Karen Esperson and former chairperson Dorrie Louise Kimkaran discussed bringing in a cancer survivor. They decided that Kimkaran would be the best choice in fact.
Kimkaran, a Hamilton resident, is a 14-year survivor of advanced misdiagnosed cervical cancer. She was given only a 65 percent chance to live five years. She chaired the Peabody Relay for Life from 2005 to 2007 and is heavily involved in the American Cancer Society, including the July 17 Mystery Poker Run Cruisin’ For a Cure in Beverly.
“She’s (participated) in the relay and is very passionate about it. She wanted to get the message out there and (tell people) what it means to relay,” said Esperson. “Hopefully there will be new people attending and she can explain what it means to her. I think it is nice to pass on a message.”
The Relay for Life is one of the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising events. It is a two-day event where teams have at least one member walk around a track at all times. Everyone on the team is required to raise money. Teams camp out at the track and there is music, entertainment and food throughout the night.
According to the American Cancer Society’s Web site, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States participate in the Relay for Life, along with additional communities in 19 other countries.
Kimkaran said the Peabody event, which includes residents from Hamilton, Wenham, Paeabody, Danvers, Salem and Ipswich, raised more than $100,000 last year.
Kimkaran said she plans on talking about how she got involved with the American Cancer Society, whether someone is a victim or a survivor (“From the moment we diagnosed we are victims; we must choose to be survivors”), and the services and education afforded by the ACS.
“The relay really is a wonderful thing. I have walked with these people almost ten years,” Kimkaran said. “To stand up for them and address them is an honor, and to (be able to) welcome those there for the first time and to make them just as comfortable is nice.”
Kimkaran was drawn to the ACS when she was first diagnosed. She said she saw an advertisement about a celebration for survivors and that got her intrigued. She said after “doing her homework” and discovering that only 10 percent of money raised goes to administrative costs, she was hooked.
She said she probably will be at the event until midnight. She will walk the first lap – the Survivor’s Lap – with her son, Jordan, a recent high school graduate who has participated in ACS events for nine years.
“Dorrie has chosen the relay as her passion,” said Esperson. “For her to get up (and talk about) why she chose it, what the money is used for, and how cancer affects her life, it is a wonderful message to be shared.”