In this day and age, cancer has affected too many loved ones too often. The American Cancer Society is an organization that realizes this and is doing something about it. The local chapter of their Relay For Life was a great success this past Saturday on the fields of Lewiston-Porter High School.
The Relay is so much more than a lap-around the track. This all-day event is a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.
"Relay For Life is about getting the community out there," says Ona Sherman, a 12-year American Cancer Society volunteer and the Relay coordinator, "This is a grass-roots operation; we try to raise $5 at a time."
Five dollars for a good cause was not hard to spend at the Relay, thanks to all of the fundraising tents and events that were going on throughout the day. Hot dogs were being sold at a rapid pace and Lew-Port High School's Chiavetta's chicken barbecue was a big (and tasty) hit. There was also countless raffle items and American Cancer Society merchandise for sale. Some of the big sellers were the $5 Luminaria paper bags that were decorated in honor of someone who has fought cancer.
The opening ceremony began with the National Anthem sung by Chelsea Pelsone (2010). Representing the Lew-Port Color Guard was Matt Argona ('13), James McIntyre ('13) and Kenny Holmes ('12).
Tami Gabri, the local American Cancer Society representative, introduced the Honorary Survivor of this year's Relay, Terry Pierce.
"Cancer was not a stranger in my family." Pierce said. "And I desperately wanted it to be."
He, his brother and mother all battled with cancer. He and his brother are survivors. On Saturday, they would be remembering their mother, who lost the battle 12 years ago.
After telling his courageous story, Pierce asked all of the survivors present to join him in the Relay's traditional releasing of the doves and Survivor Lap.
The Caregiver Lap followed with all of the survivors' supporters and loved ones at their side. There was no shortage of young people there for the cause. Into the evening, they participated in many activities and events, including a scavenger hunt, volleyball tournament, water balloon toss, and dolphin dash relay.
At 9:30 p.m., the activities took a brief pause and the volunteers focused on lighting the Luminaria decorated paper bags and placing them around the entirety of the track. It was a solemn remembrance of people who are battling cancer and ones who were lost. In this sober reminder, the theme was hope. One volunteer said, "We all share the hope that your children and their children's children will never have to hear the words ‘you have cancer.' "
There are still ways to get involved with this cause. The American Cancer Society is taking donations to support this Relay For Life up until Aug. 31. Ninety-three percent of local donations stay local to help various charitable organizations worthy of funding, including Hope Lodge, Mary's Wig Room and Roswell Park.
There is also a police vs. firefighters football game on Saturday, June 19, at the Lew-Port Stadium at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5. Proceeds benefit Relay For Life.