"The marching band is a great touch," said Maria Sahakian, a Relay for Life committee member. "It makes things very lively right from the start."
When the survivors completed the ceremonial first lap — along the outfield fences, then looping around third base through the infield — the marching band left the track to make room for 33 registered teams of between 10 and 20 members who would spend the next 24 hours walking the loop to raise money for cancer research.
After raising $47,000 in 2004 and $115,000 in 2005, this year's goal was to raise $200,000, said Linda Patrick, one of three event chairpersons, along with Harole Scoggins and Mike Haney.
"We're putting it out there to the universe and hoping it comes through," Patrick said.
The event aims to inform the public about the things they can do to help support cancer research, Reyes said.
"The message is that everyone gets the word about getting money for research, so the researchers can find a cure for this awful disease that affects all of us in one way or another," Reyes said.
Glendale resident Danielle Hedrick, 21, walked hand-in-hand with her boyfriend, Joseph Arthur, 22.
"We come out every year to support this," Hedrick said.
"It's such a great cause and we do it in memory of my grandpa who died of cancer 10 years ago."
Isabel Gharagedaghi, 28, another Glendale resident, walked on Saturday to join the fight against cancer.
"I just feel like I'm doing my part," she said. "I know I can't find a cure myself, so instead I become a part of something that could find a cure potentially."
Perhaps just as important as medical advancements, however, is to maintain a healthy outlook, Reyes said.
"My big thing is that another way to beat this is to have the best possible attitude that you can conjure up," he said. "The best medication we all know is to have a great attitude that we're going to beat this thing and to let that attitude spread to everyone you come into contact with."
CHRIS WIEBE covers City Hall and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at chris.wiebelatimes.com.