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June 23. 2013 6:56PM

Relay for Life

Many steps in Salem to fight cancer

Dressed in purple shirts, local cancer survivors walked the first lap at the Salem Relay for Life event, held on Saturday, June 22 through Sunday, June 23. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)

SALEM — As the sun set over Grant Field on Saturday evening, the party was just beginning for the 400 or so participants of this year's Relay for Life.

Now in its ninth year, the 16-hour event raises money for the American Cancer Society while also celebrating the triumphs of local cancer survivors and remembering those who lost their battles.

According to event organizers, this year's relay raised more than $70,000 with nearly 50 teams camping out overnight behind Salem High School.

"We're here to dream big, hope big and relay big," said event co-chairman Terry Conroy, a two-year survivor of thyroid cancer. "Because silence won't finish this fight, only action will."

Conroy's relay team, the PB & J's, raised nearly $17,000 and was this year's top-earning team.

Looking out into the sea of tents and emotional faces, co-chairman William Sherry said this year's event was particularly poignant as the American Cancer Society recently celebrated its 100th birthday.

Sherry said he's hoping the organization won't be needed 100 years from now.

"Hopefully by the end of this century even, we'll have a world without cancer," he said.

Conroy said this year's relay featured a number of seasoned participants along with quite a few first-timers.

"It really does take an army to get this thing going," she said.

Whether dressed in outlandish costumes while strolling laps around the track or lighting paper lanterns in memory of loved ones who have died, the Relay for Life is all about creating unforgettable moments.

Afternoon became evening and evening became morning as the participants rallied around the track, with each hour featuring different themes and costumes such as pirates, zombies, beachwear and sports team apparel.

T Bones Great American Eatery sponsored a special dinner for area cancer survivors, while Canobie Lake Park offered a few of its most popular acts, including Justin Bieber impersonator Levi Mitchell.

By Sunday morning, the hungry group was eager to eat homemade pancakes courtesy of the Salem Fire

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