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By Alice Gerard
The soaking rainfall, the blustery winds, and even a tornado warning on July 17 changed Relay For Life, but the event went on as scheduled. The changes included the cancellation of the car show and the fire performance. Survivors were still offered free meals, the basket raffle attracted a crowd, the wheel of chance still spun, and people purchased tickets for the 50-50 raffle.
According to Relay For Life Co-chair Lynn Marston Dingey, “Relay went really well, despite the weather. The wild weather had our original plan constantly changing, as we got closer to the start time. Then Relay started, the rain stopped, and people showed up. Way more than we thought would come out, especially with all the rain and flooding.”
Even though the fire performance was canceled, the performers still came to support Relay.
“Elektra & Odin did not perform, but they came out and supported the event, and they took home a couple baskets,” Dingey said.
The flooding affected access to the Relay For Life event, which was held at the Fuccillo Toyota dealership. Water pooled on the northern part of Alvin Road, as well as at the intersection of Alvin and Whitehaven roads, causing a small section of Alvin Road to be closed to traffic. The corner of Alvin and Baseline roads, however, was not affected by the rising water.
According to Dana Robinson, who was selling cookies at Relay For Life, “Cookie sales have been amazing for the weather. And now, it hasn’t rained for the past 10 minutes. The wind is kind of tough, but we will get through it.”
She said the cookies, which were created by Deanna and Brianna Wik, were created by them with this year’s theme of “Cruisin’ for a Cure” in mind. “They created the cookies in their kitchen. They worked on them all week long. That’s why they topped the cookie box off with the little car with miniature Oreo wheels.”
Deanna Wik explained, “We were trying to stay with the theme of Relay: ribbons, hearts and ‘Cruisin’ for a Cure.’ ”
Robinson also mentioned the barbecue that was prepared by BW’s Barbecue: “We did a lot of pre-sale tickets for our barbecue. We were able to fulfill all of the presale tickets.”
Visitors to the Relay For Life event at Fuccillo Toyota also had the opportunity to decorate luminaria for the ceremony that was held on July 18 at Veterans Park. In addition to the traditional luminaria ceremony, the Garden of Hope was officially dedicated to Mary Dunbar-Daluisio, the longtime co-chair of Relay For Life, who died on Oct. 4, 2017, after a lengthy battle with neuroendocrine cancer.
Dingey said, “Sunday night's event was a perfect ending to the crazy weekend. Mary's garden, the sunset, and all the beautiful luminarias made for an emotional night but a peaceful night. Mary would always say ‘searching for a cure in my lifetime,’ and Sunday's events were a reminder why we continue to search for a cure. The rain on Saturday really made a mess of the landscaping in Mary's garden.”
She noted she was thankful to the town’s Parks Department for “having it looking so perfect for the dedication and luminaria ceremony.”
One of the visitors to the luminaria ceremony was Ann Marie Pfohl, who said Relay For Life was a very special event for her. She said she remembered a Relay event that occurred in Iraq in 2006, where she had been stationed as a member of the Air Force Reserve. “I was deployed to Iraq during the summer of 2006. They did a Relay For Life at LSA Anaconda or Balad Air Base. We had the chance to do Relay For Life there. I was a medic out of the Air Medical Station facility.”
Pfohl, who works for the Department of Labor as an industrial hygienist, said having Relay at a military base in a war zone “was different. Unfortunately, participating was curtailed because there was a lot of activity around the base, so there were some issues around the safety of doing a Relay. It was kind of cut short. I wanted to do Relay because my mother, Lorraine, had breast cancer and she survived. “
Nine months ago, Pfohl, who was wearing the T-shirt from the Relay For Life event in Iraq, was diagnosed with endometrial/uterine cancer, and she underwent surgery. “Hopefully, they got it all. My mother’s currently been dealing with multiple myeloma. She is 86 years old, and she is having a rough time.”
As nighttime fell and the luminaria glowed in the darkness, Dingey said, “The luminaria on the path represent the survivors fighting, those that we’ve lost, some for caregivers, and some words of hope. All have a special meaning. Survivors’ journeys change their lives. They tell you to live life to the fullest because you just never know. If there’s anything that you want to do, don’t wait.”
A luminaria in memory of Mary Dunbar-Daluisio