TROY - Dozens of people, many of whom had lost relatives or friends to cancer, or were cancer survivors themselves, were walking around the track or sitting under awnings next to the track during the Western Bradford Relay for Life at Alparon Park in Troy on Saturday.

Canton Elementary School teacher Claire Waldmeyer, for example, said she was walking around the track in memory of fellow Canton School District staff who have died from cancer, including former fifth-grade teacher Mike Acreski, who died this year from cancer and who had continued to substitute teach even after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Another walker, Robin Baker of Troy, had lost her cousin, 52-year-old Lynn Perry, to leukemia last year. Baker said she had spent a lot time over the years with Perry, who had been the only District IV wrestling champion in the history of SRU High School in East Smithfield and who participated in the PIAA wrestling tournament.

Baker and Waldmeyer are among the 130 people who are participating in the Western Bradford Relay for Life this weekend, which is a 24-hour event to raise money for the American Cancer Society, said Kristen Nuss, an income development specialist with the American Cancer Society.

Each participant is a member of one of 15 teams. The members of the 15 teams take turns walking around the track, so that at least one member from each team is walking around the track during the entire 24 hours, Nuss said.

"That's our goal," Nuss said. "We don't punish them if they don't (always have a team member on the track).

The Relay for Life events started after a surgeon in Tacoma, Wash., named Gordy Klatt ran for 24 hours in 1985 to raise money for the American Cancer Society, Nuss said. Klatt, who was a marathon runner, ran more than 83 miles that day, and friends donated $25 each to run or walk with Klatt for 30 minutes, which raised a total of $27,000, according to the American Cancer Society.

The following year the first American Cancer Society Relay for Life event was held, with 19 teams participating.

Today during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life events, which are held around the country, people generally walk, and they take turns doing it, "because not everyone is capable of running for 24 hours," Nuss said with a laugh.

To raise money for the American Cancer Society, the 15 teams conducted fundraisers at Alparon Park this weekend and elsewhere over the past year, such as a spaghetti dinner, a Chinese auction, an ice cream social, and even cow pie bingo, Nuss said.

At the start of this weekend's Relay for Life, the teams had already raised a total of $19,300, about half the $39,500 goal for the event.

As part of the event, there is also a luminaria ceremony, a cancer survivor ceremony and a survivor dinner.

The event also features live music, a karoake contest and a car show.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.