For that matter, Hertzog-Wagner, a breast cancer survivor, had never walked in a relay before. Taking a stroll around the LeBard Stadium track, however, filled her with reassurance for the future.
"It's a very exciting feeling that people are taking the disease seriously and doing something to fight it," she said.
The event kicked off at 7 p.m. Friday with an opening ceremony, with City Councilwoman Katrina Foley, Coast Community College District Trustee Mary Hornbuckle and others making brief speeches.
The Costa Mesa High School cheerleaders danced and the fire department's honor guard led the Pledge of Allegiance, and then the walking began — with no plans to stop until 6:30 p.m. the next day.
"Remember why we're here," Hornbuckle told the crowd. "Our team is walking in honor and remembrance of friends who have lost their lives to cancer."
The first to walk were cancer survivors, who donned purple shirts and circled the track — some with assistance — as Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" pulsated from the speakers. The organizers planned much more than walking for the next 24 hours.
Among the events on the calendar were midnight movie screenings, live music and even a yoga session.
The American Cancer Society has 26 Relays for Life planned for this year in Orange County, according to community development manager Nicole Hensley. The season for the relays lasts from April to October.
Joseph Kristofl, the volunteer chairman for the Costa Mesa event, said he felt proud to bring his city into the fold.
"Kind of on a dare, a couple people said we should have one here in Costa Mesa, and here we are," he said.
MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.