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The weather was perfect for this year's Relay For Life.
It was sunny and warm, but not hot. A large crowd gathered at the National D-Day Memorial, which opened its facility for the event. Teams that have been raising money for the American Cancer Society walked a paved loop around a grassy area that centers on a replica of Le Monument aux Morts from Trévières in Normandy.
The bronze sculpture, dedicated to France's World War I dead, was damaged during the D-Day landing and left un-repaired as a memorial of that day.
The Relay event honors both the living and those who have died. Cancer survivors are honored and those who did not survive are remembered.
One team was organized in memory of William and Wayne Martin, twin brothers who died of cancer. Wayne died in November, 2009 and William passed away in February 2010. Their cancers were the result of exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used in the Vietnam War. Both of them were in the Army and, according to Fran Dale, their sister, they both did multiple tours of duty in Vietnam.
"They would be in the jungle and a plane would fly over and they would get soaked," she said. "That happened day after day."
"Last year was our first year after Daddy and Wayne passed away," said Stephanie Martin, William Martin's daughter. She said that they were the top fundraiser last year.
People came out for a number of reasons.
"Just to participate in a good cause, to show our support," said Bryan Parker, who was part of the CINTAS team.
"For fun and to raise money and support the cause," said Lauren Nicholas, a senior at Jefferson Forest High School (JFHS) and a member of the JFHS soccer team, which raise money as a team. Nicholas is headed for Liberty University this fall where she intends to major in special education.
Others were there because they had survived a bout with cancer, themselves.
"It's hard to describe, to be honest with you," Betty Lodge said. "I'm just glad to be here."
Her husband, Randy Lodge was walking with her.
A total of 25 teams and an estimated 350 people participated in this year's event. They have raised $57,021 so far but donations can still be credited to this year's event until Aug. 31. Donations can be made online at www.RelayForLife.org/BedfordVA or mailed or delivered to, American Cancer Society, Attn: Relay For Life of Bedford, 2840 Electric Road, Suite 106A,Roanoke, VA 24018. Money raised goes to patient support programs and cancer research.
For more information about the American Cancer Society's programs, visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345).