McConnell Airmen relay for life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
In support of cancer awareness, Senior Airman Roslyn Longmire, 384th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, assembled a team of runners to participate in the Relay for Life of Derby July 12, 2013, Derby Kan.

The Relay for Life is an annual event where teams honor the lives of people who have battled cancer. Participants camp around a track overnight and walk laps while raising funds for the American Cancer Society.

Longmire named her team "The Divas," in memory of her mother and aunt who lost their lives to cancer.

"Roslyn is very, very supportive of this cause," said Matthew Hammond, 22nd Contracting Squadron contracting administrator. "It had a tremendous effect on her life, so I believe it holds more weight to her than most volunteers."

Longmire began to build her team of Divas two months before the run. As the event came closer, she would recruit team members at her squadron meetings.

"As long as I am not deployed I will do what I can to be involved every year," she said. "If for some reason I can't walk, I'll try my best to fundraise and still encourage others to participate."

The event originated in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, wanted to raise money and awareness for the ACS and spent 24 hours running around a track in Tacoma, Wash., while friends and spectators donated money to join him.

Participants are not expected to run around-the-clock at the Derby event, but teams strive to have at least one member working their way around the track at all times throughout the 12 hours of the event.

Some teams set up their own customized booths to raise funds.

The Divas made a tie-dye station, coloring shirts and clothing items in remembrance of people who they love, said Longmire.

"She's part of the reason I came," said Hammond. "I understood that this particular event meant a lot to her. It felt great to support her and most importantly the survivors."

The Relay for Life movement raises more than $400 million annually and distributes the funds to provide free treatment and care givers to cancer patients and toward research for a cure.

The event came to a closing at 6 a.m. after a long night of fundraising festivities, exercise and even tears.

"The idea behind it lasting the whole night is the fact that cancer never sleeps," said Longmire.

Neither would she and her team of cancer fighters while they relayed for life.