It would have been hard to miss Terry Lesser at Friday night's L.
Wearing a pink cowboy hat and a matching blouse, Lesser stood out among the crowd of about 250 people who turned out for the all night fundraiser at .
More than a few buttons and ribbons decorated her hat, commemorating the Cancer Relays and other American Cancer society events in which she has participated.
“I’ve walked in these events for the last 12 years,” she said proudly as she watched the opening ceremonies.
“I have three daughters,” she said, “and wouldn’t it be wonderful if they didn’t have to worry about cancer.”
Lesser was among the first arrivals for the relay; registration began at 5 p.m. and by the time the survivors took their first lap to officially open the festivities 90 minutes later, there were more than 200 people walking the short track, carved from an asphalt parking lot on the hospital grounds.
Those walkers raised money to fight cancer with each lap including 21 teams from local businesses and community groups.
Claire Treacy of Lake Forest, captain of the Abbott Labs GPO Team and co-chairwoman of the event, said her group staged a golf outing, trivia night, bake sale, a car wash and coin collection to raise money prior to the relay event.
“There is no pressure. People come out and volunteer time because they want to,” said Treacy, who lost an aunt to cancer eight years. “This is such a great cause.”
Early fundraising totals showed more than $36,000 had been raised. Officials expected the final total to be much more.
Walkers and their supporters pitched 11 tents on a grassy area adjoining the lot. Many said they would stay overnight; others tossed plastic discs or played catch.
A church group cooked burgers and hot dogs given away for a donation at the food tent, adding to the picnic atmosphere.
Sponsors, kids selling lemonade, face-painters, bead sellers, manned tables on the asphalt infield formed in the center of the track.
The climax of the evening came about 10 p.m. as luminaria candles lining the makeshift track were lit to honor those who lost their lives to cancer.
A bagpiper played a solemn march as walkers made their way around the darkened parking lot and the crowd fell silent.
Beverly Raudabaugh, of Lake Forest, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, had an upbeat take on the meaning of the event.
“I know I’m not alone in my survivorship,” she said. “I’ve been poked and prodded. Now it's all about living.”