RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Cancer can be a heartbreaking diagnosis; it can change a person’s entire world in an instant. Each year in the United States, more than 1.6 million people receive the diagnosis. On Friday, cancer survivors and their supporters laced up their shoes and walked for a cause in Russell County. 

Vendors at the Crawford Walking Trail honored both survivors and those who have passed on at Russell County’s “Relay for Life” event. The event was hosted by the American Cancer Society, and funds raised through the event go toward cancer research, education, advocacy and patient services. 

Luminaries lined the walking trail as a tribute to those who lost their battle to cancer. For many attendees, the message of the event hits especially close to home. 

Among those walking was Christina Williams. Her family has felt the direct impacts of cancer as both of her parents battled the disease. Williams says she lost her father about two months ago to lung cancer. Her mother is a cancer survivor who battled three different types of cancer. 

“We’re out here supporting him and his battle that he had and supporting hers,” Williams said. “… And just happy that she made it through.”

Attendees were able to eat, walk and dance with others who have been impacted by the disease. Supporters were able to walk hand-in-hand with survivors. 

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many elective medical procedures, like cancer screenings, were put on hold. However, the American Cancer Society emphasizes the importance of early detection. The American Cancer Society says regular screening can increase your chances of detecting certain cancers early, before they have a chance to spread.