On Katelynn Garza's first birthday, it wasn't all about the balloons, cake, or even a celebration, as most children have.
Katelynn found out that day that she had a rare type of cancer, neuroblastoma. From that day on, Katelynn and her family would go on to fight her cancer until it was no more.
Kimberly Garza, Katelynn's mother, said they could not have done it without the help of fundraisers like Relay For Life to help find Katelynn's cure.
The 10th annual Relay For Life of Northwest Corpus Christi was held Friday and Saturday at Calallen's Wildcat Stadium as cancer survivors, caregivers and caring citizens helped raise awareness and funds to help the American Cancer Society with cancer research.
"This year's Relay For Life has shown huge growth, just compared to last year's," said Wilma Grupe, 2008 Northwest event chair. "By seeing such growth, this tells us that people are being reached and through this a life could be saved by early detection."
Relay For Life symbolizes a day of fighting for a cancer survivor or fighting for someone who has been lost through the battle of cancer.
The event began at 7 p.m. Friday and ended at 7 a.m. Saturday. These 12 hours of walking laps around a stadium showed that even as the sun was rising, when many people were tired and sleeping, Relay For Life participants were out walking laps, which symbolized the life of a cancer patient tired and weak either during the process of chemotherapy or when everything has failed and the battle is coming to an end.
This year Northwest's Relay For Life had 52 teams and more than 650 registered participants. There were also a number of participants who were not registered, but were out supporting the event.
"There are 15 Relay For Life events in the Coastal Bend. One of our main purposes is fighting against this disease on a year-round basis, not just a daily basis," said Julie Bedsole, community manager for Relay For Life. "We not only want to eliminate cancer, but we want to raise awareness."
Kimberly Garza, mother of now 16-month old Katelynn Garza, participated in Relay For Life for the first time this year after her young child battled cancer successfully.
"I am so glad I came out here and participated in this event," Garza said. "Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that my daughter had and I met a woman out here today who also fought this same cancer."
Northwest Relay For Life picked up $150,300 Saturday morning.
"The total may be well over that amount, as people are still turning in money," said treasurer Nancy Smith. "Our net goal that the American Cancer Society set for us was $125,000. I knew without a doubt that we would reach our goal and that is exactly what we did."
Northwest Relay For Life will hold its wrap-up party April 21 at West Guth Park.
Teams that participated in the relay are encouraged to attend and people interested in starting a team for next year's Relay For Life are also invited to attend.