Relay for Life is Personal for Council Members
Council members join together to help fight Cancer.
Councilwoman Denise Contrino has been touched by cancer. So has Councilwoman Nancy Pinkin. And so have many others.
So it is with more than just a sense of duty and commitment that they will be walking at this year’s Relay for Life on June 9, it is with a lifetime full of memories of the loved ones they lost and the friends and family that have been touched by this disease.
“This charity is important to me because cancer has touched so many loved ones in my life,” said Contrino. “My uncle, Joe McDonald, lost his battle with cancer four years ago on Aug. 21. My life-long friend, Jamie Keith, is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 39 with breast cancer. My step-father, Anthony Kemprowski, has been battling cancer for several years and we have high hopes that he will beat it!
“This event celebrates the lives of those who have won the battle, remembers those that have lost, and brings people together who are passionate about finding a cure.”
Contrino and Pinkin and fellow councilmembers Camille Ferraro, Michael Hughes and James Wendell, will be taking part in this year’s Relay for Life walk, to be held from noon to midnight at Heavenly Farms on Saturday, June 9. Mayor David Stahl said he is unable to participate because he is attending his daughter’s graduation, but that he has made a donation.
While council members usually take part in the event, this year they have created an official East Brunswick Township team with the hope of inspiring others to join, donate, or create their own team. So far, the team has raised nearly $2,000.
“When I first suggested that we have a township team, my goal was to motivate as many people as possible to participate—either through contributing to our team (which many did) or by starting their own team or joining a team that has their friends on it. It's the old 'by hook or by crook, I want you to be part of Relay,’ ” said Ferraro.
For Pinkin, there was no extra incentive needed. Her husband, James Salwitz Md., is a physician at the Central Jersey Oncology Center (and a Blogger for East Brunswick Patch), and sees the pain of cancer every day. Her daughter is studying to go into the same field. While that might be enough incentive to participate, there is, unfortunately, more.
“Personally, my grandfather died of Melanoma and my nephew had also been treated for melanoma,” she said. “My mother died of lung cancer. My sister-in-law has had cancer twice. My cousin died at an early age of ovarian cancer and her brother had testicular cancer. We have many friends who have also had cancer, some who died from the disease. Dr. (Michael) Nissenblatt, also of CJOC, and his wife, Marlene, chair the Middlesex County Cancer Society fundraising event.
“I am also working with a coalition to address the lack of cancer funding in New Jersey. Over the years, many advances in treatment have been made but much more needs to be done. Relay for Life is just one more small way we can dedicate funds for research to find new ways to treat and cure the many types of cancer that exist.”
Ferrro’s work to create the team has even inspired others, including Scott Sprengel of Coach USA, who offered to have contribution cans placed at the ticket windows of commuter bus stations.
“I have no idea of the amount collected but simply that Scott's company, through his initiative, has done this is really wonderful,” she said. “Corporate doesn't have to do a thing, and he is exemplifying a cooperative spirit of working, business with government, to help good people. By creating a township team I was able, shamelessly, to use council meetings as a means of getting the word out on a regular basis—and by tying it to the township, it gave it just a 'schoch' (tiny bit) more publicity.”
Ferraro said the township team is non-partisan and that anyone connected in any way to East Brunswick, by virtue of residency or employment or just by knowing someone, can join by visiting www.relayforlife.org/eastbrunswicknj. Once there they can click on “sign up,” “join a team” or “donate.”
In addition, to make a monetary donation, luminaries used to decorate the walk are $10. The luminaries were decorated by East Brunswick school students and will carry the name of anyone you wish to honor, remember or encourage in their fight against cancer.