Community coming together for annual Oro Valley Relay for Life event

Paul and Linda Vetrano

Courtesy Photo

T he heart of the fight against cancer lies within its survivors. This is visible in the sunny community within the Tucson desert. This area is home to a special overnight event, the Oro Valley Relay For Life, which is the American Cancer Society’s main fundraiser. 

However, Relay For Life serves for more than just a fundraiser, it stands as a community of support for active cancer survivors. 

For Teresa Morelli, a cervical cancer survivor and caregiver, it is about spreading hope to other cancer victims that there is something more out there for them. Teresa has overcome her own battle and a recent bone cancer scare behind her left eye. She has cared for her parents who died of cancer, and her sister, who is now five years cancer-free. 

Today, Teresa is an active member of the Oro Valley Relay For Life Committee and is about to participate in her 10th relay. To Teresa, relay is about spending 10 hours with her “Relay Family” each year. This family has offered her support, friendship, and unforgettable memories. These connections have kept Teresa going strong through personal cancer experiences for a decade. She remains an active member motivated to raise funds for cancer research, and will not stop until there is a cure. 

For others like Paul and Linda Vetrano, both cancer survivors and caregivers to each other, relay continues to be a special night for them to meet new people and share their stories. They have eagerly participated in relay for five years, but one would never guess what this couple has endured. Paul has survived testicular cancer and brain tumor, along with 29 operations. Linda has survived cervical cancer, kidney cancer, a benign brain tumor, and still lives with the side effects of these happenings. She remains in bed 80 percent of the day and currently received regular MRIs to monitor potential cancer cells in her spine. Through all this, Paul and Linda continue to carry out their lives with the most uplifting spirits. They look at life in a humorous manner and believe that a positive attitude is vital to beating cancer. Their presence in Relay is truly enriching for other survivors and themselves. Between conversing to celebrating life, Relay is a night dear to their hearts. It is the commodity of survivors and their families that keep Paul and Linda coming back, and each year they build a stronger appreciation for the love and closeness that relay provides.

All area survivors and their families are invited to come to the Oro Valley Relay. 

Whether it is for a few minutes or overnight, all are welcome to come share stories, grow new bonds, and join the relay family. 

Cancer survivors can register at for free or email at

To request more information, RSVP to Jesse Petersen at 329-8962. 

Area businesses and organizations will be on hand throughout the night as participants walk in recognition of cancer.

Relay for Life is an event hosted by the American Cancer Society, an organization aimed at research and raising awareness  for all forms of cancer.

According to the Relay for Life website, so far the Oro Valley event has 42 teams signed up, with 238 participants raising an estimated $33,168.29 to date.

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