Up All Night to Fight Cancer
Relay for Life features an all night walk-a-thon.
For the third straight year, East Brunswick’s Heavenly Farms played host to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life - an all-night walk that raises money and awareness for cancer research.
Over 200 people participated in this year’s event, and officials estimated beforehand that almost $35,000 was raised. “Relay is a community event” Manager Kaitlyn Buffone said. “So this event is bringing all of East Brunswick together, and all the money goes right back into the community.”
The event began at about 7:30 Saturday night, and ended at about the same time the next morning. At about 9 p.m. the event’s highlight- the Luminaria walk- took place. Paper bags decorated by local students with candles inside surrounded the perimeter of the track as participants were joined by survivors in a walk of solidarity for the fight against cancer.
For some, this commemorative walk represents the essence of such an event.
“People relay for various reasons,” said event volunteer and honorary chair Sharon Sullivan of East Brunswick. “If you’ve lost someone, if you’re a survivor if someone’s going through it. Cancer doesn’t sleep so we shouldn’t either.”
Since the Relay’s inception in 1985, it has become one of the largest cancer research fundraisers in the country, with thousands of people participating nationwide each year.
“This is probably the biggest community event that takes place anywhere in the world,” Sullivan said. “We raise money for research, education, advocacy, and patient and family services. We try to get the whole community involved.”
And involved they were. Local restaurants donated food for the survivor dinner, students decorated the Luminaria bags, businesses committed sponsorships and setup tents, and a local DJ even played music throughout the night.
And despite this year’s edition being smaller than in years past, people continue to participate in the hope of one day finding a cure.
“Unfortunately we know a lot of people affected by cancer,” said Paul Endler of East Brunswick. This was Endler’s second year participating in the Relay, and his Boy Scouts of America team raised about $1,500. “It’s a great cause it gets awareness of cancer out to many more people.
“I just feel that it’s very important to raise money for a cause that is one of the major causes of death in the United States,” added Judy Zone. “And being a cancer survivor, hopefully there will be a cure in the near future due to all the research that is being done and I think this is one of the ways to help.”
Especially for survivors, an event like Relay for Life represents all the progress that has been made in the fight against cancer. “Years ago it was quiet, nobody talked about it,” said stomach cancer survivor Irwin Helfghott. “An organization like this opened it up to say ‘Hey, there are people here that can help you.’ It shows you that there’s people that care.”