Shadow Lane, 18, whose younger brother, Deacon, died of bone cancer at the age of 6 in 2001, was trying to walk the entire 24 hours without stopping, a fete the fit teenager completed last year.
"Usually, what I say is that I come out here for my brother, but really I'm walking out here for everybody," said Lane while taking a moment to stop and answer a few questions. "I always ask myself, 'Why was it my brother and not me?'"
He added: "If I could swap places, I would."
Lane's type of spirit was evident in just about everybody at the fundraising event, which is held by the American Cancer Society and whose proceeds, in excess of an expected $70,000 this year, will go directly to cancer research, said Ted Braxton, director of Relay for Life for the Orange County region.
Across the county each year, there are roughly 34 similar events, 31 of them in the communities and three at various colleges, he said.
So far, nine have been completed, including Saturday's event at Orange Coast College, he said.
The continuous display of teams whose members gather and whose mission is to walk nonstop collectively has turned out to be the No. 1 fundraiser in cancer research "second only to the federal government," Braxton said.
He said last year alone the Relays for Life in the U.S. raised $385 million, all of which went directly to scientists who conduct research on the possible cures and examine the countless causes and effects of the disease.
As for the biggest single fundraiser held in Orange County, Braxton said the honor belongs to Irvine, which last year brought in $204,000 for its Relay for Life.