Joshua Walker was a senior in high school when he agreed to dee-jay the first Quaker Valley Relay For Life event. At that point, his life hadn’t really been affected all that much by cancer.
“I wasn’t really focused on what the event was all about,” he said.
It wasn’t until three years ago, after a Relay for Life wrap-up meeting—when everyone who worked on the event gets together—that Walker got a devastating call from his mother. She told him she’d been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“It really touched me and it touched me in a big way,” he said.
Fast-forward to eight years later. Walker's mom is doing well after having surgery to remove the cancer, but the experience hit close to home. Walker now works for the American Cancer Society and has remained involved since its inception. He'll serve again as master of ceremonies this year at the eighth annual QV Relay for Life, which takes place June 23 and 24 in Chuck Knox stadium.
Though he's worked for years to spread the message about relay, Walker said he still finds himself working to dispel the misconception that the relay is some sort of race. There’s no racing involved, whatsoever, he said.
“The biggest problem we have is that people in Sewickley still think is a race,” he said. “They wholeheartedly don’t get what relay is.”
Walker said relay is against “this horrible disease we know is cancer.”
So far , but organizers say anyone can get involved.
“Take part in the fight any way you want to. Come down and buy a bottled water,” he said. “People can just come and walk around, come hang out for a half hour or stay all day.”
Keeping with the theme, Barbara Cooley-Thaw, event chairwoman, said, there are a lot of events planned for this year, including live music, fireworks, crafts for kids, carnival games and prizes.
She said one of many highlights this year is the QV Midget Football Association (QVMFA) cheerleaders who will line the high school track at 5 p.m. to cheer on the survivors for their fifth consecutive year at Relay for Life.
Family and friends are given an opportunity to cheer on those who have been afflicted with cancer and Thaw said the community is invited to participate in this uplifting ceremony.
“Together we can and do make a difference,” Thaw said.
This free family event is open to the public. For additional information, visit www.QVRelay.org or contact Barbara Cooley Thaw (event chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org.