Relay for Life event set at Lamar-Dixon

Licia Chaney refers to cancer as the “c” word, and still chokes up when she talks about the daughter she lost to the disease.

Chaney’s daughter Brandi died in 2012, about a month before the annual Ascension Relay for Life.

Brandi had hoped to walk with others during the survivors’ lap, but “she didn’t live to see that day,” Chaney said.

Despite those difficult memories, Chaney will join other members of The Brandi Bunch for the April 20 Ascension Relay for Life fundraiser at the Lamar-Dixon Center in Gonzales.

The Relay for Life is a 12-hour event featuring teams selling items, playing games and serving food to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The event’s kick-off celebration features a lap for cancer survivors.

As Chaney watched the survivors walk around the track at last year’s event, the sight “became overwhelming.”

And when friends and family members of those who lost their fight with cancer took to the track, Chaney knew she wasn’t alone.

“I knew I wasn’t by myself in this fight, I wasn’t alone,” she said.

Chaney said she has become a passionate supporter of the event and the American Cancer Society “because we’ve got to make it better for my granddaughter and my three surviving daughters,” she said.

“I walk for awareness and education,” she said.

And, she walks to fulfill a promise she made to Brandi to “get the word out about the ‘c’ word.”

The Brandi Bunch, made up of more than 25 members, has already raised more than $3,600 for the event.

Casey K. Walker, the volunteer coordinator of the Ascension event, said 32 teams have already raised more than $82,000.

Relay brings together friends, families, businesses, hospitals, schools, faith-based groups ... people from all walks of life — all aimed at furthering the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives by helping people stay well, by helping them get well, by finding cures and by fighting back, Walker said.

“Relay For Life draws attention to the progress being made in the fight against cancer,” Walker said. “Many participants are our family, friends, and neighbors who have faced cancer themselves. Their involvement helps brings hope that, together, we can eliminate cancer as a major health problem.”

Another mother who will be remembering her daughter at the event is Kriste Haydel, whose daughter Amanda Haydel Sinanan, died in 2009.

Haydel also takes part to honor her father, who died of colon cancer.

For Haydel, Relay for Life has become a year-round project.

Haydel said she never stops working to raise money for the American Cancer Society and her Amanda’s Gang team.

To date, the 32-member Amanda’s Gang has raised $780 and is planning to sell sausage po-boys and snow balls at the event.

Both Haydel and Chaney hopes thousands of area residents will attend the Relay for Life, purchase items on sale and dine on the large variety of food.

Walker said the menu will include hamburgers, pasta salad, chili pies, cotton candy, jambalaya, boiled crawfish, pulled pork sandwiches and a variety of local favorites.

“We’re really going to eat good,” Walker said at a recent planning meeting.

Luminaria and Torches of Hope can be purchased by calling Walker at (225) 571-1745 or Lindsay Turner at (225) 287-5177.

Plans are also under way for a “Womanless Beauty Contest” and 1-mile walk and 5K fund run. For the beauty contest, call Walker or Theresa Bearden at (225) 405-7757.

To register for the walk or run, call Brian Janis at (225) 223-9117 or email bjanis@cfindustries.com.