Skinny white candles sat on a small table in the center of the room where, one-by-one, they were lit in honor of those who have been affected or lost their lives to cancer.
To close the Circle of Hope celebration, the small group that gathered sang “Amazing Grace” while the cluster of candles emitted a growing orange glow; a somber reminder of just how many lives cancer has affected.
The 17th annual 2×2 Cancer Walk, under warm, sunny skies, kick started a full day of cancer awareness and fundraising events on April 27.
People gathered at the Cordova Jr./Sr. High School, walked up Main Street and soon after were greeted by Cordova’s Girl Scout troop, offering small cups of water to the walkers. They circled back into town and ended the walk at the fire hall for the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department’s head shaving event.
“I see people who walk … they all have a story and that’s emotional for me,” Wendy Ranney said.
Ranney, who does social media and marketing for the 2×2 Cancer Walk board of directors, has been participating in the event for a decade. This was the first year since then that she wasn’t able to attend.
“When I came back to town it was on my radar because of Patrick dying of cancer,” she said of her late husband, Patrick Green, a bird biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Cordova, who passed away in 1997.
Since 2005, the 2×2 Cancer Walk, a local nonprofit organization started by Irene Webber and Susana Marquette, has disbursed $80,100 to 154 local residents to help mitigate the cost of follow up cancer treatment and early detection screenings.
Applications for their disbursement program can be found at the Cordova Community Medical Center and Ilanka Community Health Center.
A disbursement team made up of 2×2 Cancer Walk board members and residents process the applications. Information on applicants is kept confidential.
“It’s important that we call attention to preventative measures and the fact that early intervention is key with fighting cancer and it can hit anybody at any age,” Ranney said.
In addition to the 2×2 Cancer Walk, the CVFD’s head shaving event brings in between $3,000 and $6,000 every year, said 2×2 Cancer Walk President Nancy Bird.
Other donations have also come from Cordova’s annual Dressed to Kill event, as well as families who have lost someone to cancer and make the 2×2 Cancer Walk a beneficiary for memorials.
One-hundred percent of money raised for the 2×2 Cancer Walk stays in Cordova.
Volunteer firefighters and members of the public sat in front of an eager audience and before long locks of hair littered the floor.
Gino Reyes had his long hair braided and cut to save to donate and then buzzed completely off in support of the event.
On the opposite end of the makeshift hair salon, Dick Groff sported a thick brown curly wig as he meticulously buzzed Micah Renfeldt’s hair.
“Everybody has a story, and everybody deals with it differently,” Ranney said. “It’s a way to see everybody come together and know that Cordova’s got your back and we’re gonna take care of you.”