When he was diagnosed with throat cancer in January 2010, Larry Smith thought his life was over — in more ways than one.

Adding to the terror that comes with any diagnosis for any person, Smith also had to grapple with the possibility that, as a professional singer, his career as he knew it would be coming to an end.

You can read more about Smith and his eventual triumph over throat cancer in the article by Lindsay Keefer on this week’s front page. It’s an amazing and truly inspirational story, and we hope all of you will take the time to read and absorb it.

The reason we bring Smith up again is that his is just one of the countless incredible tales of human courage and dignity that will be shared and celebrated during the Relay For Life of the Woodburn Area this weekend at Centennial Park.

The relay is an opportunity for the entire community to rally around those whose lives have been somehow impacted by cancer — a group which, these days, includes just about everybody.

It is our chance to rejoice with those who have beaten their cancer, support those who are still in the midst of the battle and grieve with those friends and family members whose loved ones were stolen from them by this terrible disease.

As you probably know, Relay For Life is an all-day and all-night event, with entertainment and numerous other activities planned throughout the evening (see Page 3 for a full schedule).

Of course, not everyone’s health, employment or family situation may allow them to pull an all-nighter. If that’s the case for you, organizers are making it especially clear this year that area residents need not feel pressured to make the full 24-hour commitment.

Organizers — and the survivors and families that this event is all about — just want to see people there, as many as possible, regardless of whether they stop by for a half-hour on their way home from work or bring a lawn chair and sit up until 4 a.m.

There are endless ways to make it work with your schedule. Maybe you want to go all-out and pitch your tent at the park, and if so, by all means, go for it. But, if not, a brief appearance during the survivors’ lap at 6:20 p.m. or a tour of the luminaria later in the evening would make for a profound and moving way to spend a bit of your time.

And don’t let children and early bedtimes be an excuse! There are plenty of fun activities for the kiddos, and it’s great for them to learn about and support such a good cause, too.

Believe us, it is an easy and very rewarding way to make a big, positive impact in someone’s life, and it’s an important way to show those who have suffered and are suffering that their entire community is behind them, all the way to the finish line.

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