Submitted by Relay for Life West Hartford
On June 2 and 3, the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of West Hartford held its annual all-day and all-night Relay event at and raised over $127,000 for cancer research and patient resources – 14 percent over its $110,000 goal for the year.
With 48 Relay teams in total and over 400 individuals continuously walking the track for 20 hours, the event was deemed a resounding success by its organizers.
One of the keys to success to this year’s event was the addition of a family carnival on site bringing in additional members of the community. The carnival – complete with bounce houses, games, a dunking booth, face painting and more – was made possible by Northern Connecticut (who also brought in over 60 volunteers to man the carnival) and of West Hartford who made a generous contribution in memory of employee Miguel Godoy who passed away in 2011 of esophageal cancer.
Speakers during the day of Relay activities included Scott Slifka, West Hartford mayor; Dr. Ramon Jimenez, surgical oncologist at Hartford Hospital; Dr. Stacy Nerenstone, medical oncologist; Estrella Gonzalez, a cancer survivor; Kevin Zoeller, Relay For Life co-chair and cancer survivor, and Mike Isko, Relay For Life co-chair.
A number of musicians and performers also performed for the Relay participants, including Broadway star and West Hartford native Ryan Binder, Kate Callahan, Mollydookers, Diomasach, Love Note Sentiment, The Score and Playhouse on the Park.
One of the most emotional moments of the Relay For Life event came during the Survivor Lap, when all the cancer survivors in attendance walked a lap around the track to the cheers and tears of the crowd.
Another moving highlight to the day’s event was the Luminaria Ceremony. White luminaria bags – each personalized with the name, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer – are placed around the track and illuminated after dark. Relay For Life participants, survivors and caregivers gathered together during the Luminaria Ceremony to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those who have battled the disease.
More information on the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of West Hartford can also be found at rflwesthartford.com.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events. Teams do most of their fundraising prior to the event, but some teams also hold creative fundraisers at their campsites during Relay. Relay For Life is the primary fundraising and community action engine of the American Cancer Society.