It has been four years since 17-year-old Wauconda High School student Jack Mason Mead lost his battle with brain cancer. This year, his mother Gayle Mead is co-chairing the community’s 12th annual Relay For Life of the American Cancer Society to honor her son and keep up the fight.
“He’d be pretty proud," said Mead of her popular, basketball-playing son who was diagnosed with cancer at age 16 after complaining of headaches. Jack would succumb to the disease 21 months later.
Mead said she vividly remembers her son serving as the Relay’s honorary chairman five years ago, wearing a powerful T-shirt that read, simply, “Cancer Sucks.”
“It was incredible to be on stage with him,” said Mead, adding her continued participation in Relay For Life “has been a kind of therapy for me.”
Each summer, communities across the country hold Relay For Life events to raise research funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society. This year’s relay theme is “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.”
Mead’s own Relay team will be one of at least 40 participating in the annual event, to be held 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday at Lake Zurich’s Paulus Park. The relay will include residents from Lake Zurich, Wauconda and Island Lake.
Team members will walk laps throughout the night to earn the donations they have solicited. Event co-Chair Petra Croneigh, who has participated in the event for the past 10 years, said the overall goal is to raise about $104,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The public is invited to come out and cheer the teams on. Teams will have themed campsites and mini-fundraisers. Refreshments will be sold and a bake-off will be held.
A disc jockey will spin tunes throughout the night to keep the walkers’ energy levels high. There also will be activities for the kids and live performances by the band With Time I Create, composed of Lake Zurich High School students, and cover band Triple Dawg Dare. Students from Trilogy Dance also will perform.
For those who have never attended a Relay For Life event, it can be an emotional, yet uplifting, experience, said Croneigh. “It’s amazing to see the survivors and caregivers who come back, but unfortunately some don’t.”
The relay will begin with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday followed by the survivor/caregiver lap.
For the luminaries ceremony at 10 p.m., the walking track will be lined with illuminated bags to honor those who have lost their lives to cancer or who have been touched by cancer. Attendees are encouraged to bring donations of canned food items, which will be used instead of sand to weigh the bags down. The donations will then be given to a local food pantry.
Croneigh said it is not too late to form a Relay team. For more information, contact her at 847-308-8668 or go online at http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?pg=entry&fr_id=30735. They are also on Facebook.