Daniel Boudreaux watched as his grandchildren munched on pizza and his wife stepped up to bowl. For Boudreaux, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017, just being able to enjoy a night out with his family is a blessing he wasn't always sure he would have a chance to witness.
Boudreaux and more than 30 families took part in the annual American Cancer Services Relay for Life's bowling night at Premier Lanes in Gonzales.
The bowling night, held March 7, gives cancer patients and survivors and their families a night to forget about chemotherapy, doctors and disease, said Kim Myers, one of the organizers of the event.
Myers, a survivor of colon cancer, said many of the families attending have been taking part in Relay for Life events for years. At the events, the families are reminded that there are others going through the same thing — a cancer diagnosis.
The diagnosis was not a promising one for Boudreaux. After two rounds of chemotherapy, Boudreaux was told that he had around two months to find a stem cell donor before his leukemia would take his life. He didn't have to look far. Boudreaux has a twin brother who was a perfect blood type match. The brothers knew they were twins, but didn't realize they were identical twins.
Soon after the diagnosis, the Boudreaux family learned about the services offered by the American Cancer Society.
American Cancer Society volunteers visited with the family during hospital visits, provided information and offered spiritual support, said Boudreaux's wife, Michelle. "We received lots of support, and now we're paying it forward."
The Boudreaux family had more than 50 team members at last year's Ascension Relay for Life fundraiser and plans to have more than 60 this year.
Linda Haydel, a volunteer with the ACS, said it's not too late for teams and individuals to take part in Relay for Life, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at Cabela's, 2200 W. Cabela's Parkway, Gonzales. To register, visit RelayForLife.org or call (800) 227-2345.
"You can join a team, create a team or volunteer to help out the day of the relay," Haydel said.
Kristie Haydel, who has helped to organize the bowling night for five years, said she volunteers in memory of her daughter and "because if she would have survived, she would be here tonight helping out. She really wanted to do this (help others with cancer.)
Kristie Haydel's daughter, Amanda Sinanan, died in 2009 from brain cancer.
As she looked around the room, Kristie Haydel noted that while there were many familiar faces bowling, there were some new families that need services.
"We're all fighting together," she said.
During Relay For Life events, members of each team take turns walking or running around the track or path. Teams participate in fundraising in the months leading up to the event.
One of those events is the Paint the Town Purple campaign, which will include mounting purple-themed displays in storefronts, swapping out white light bulbs for purple ones, putting purple bows on mailboxes and front doors, and selecting days for everyone to wear purple at work or school. The campaign runs through March 23.