The event raises funds for research and support in the fight against cancer. A goal of $385,000 was set and the community has responded generously. Participants from the towns of Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Summit and Mountainside joined more than 4 million people who participate in “Relay for Life” events around the globe.
The local event had 112 teams participating including 80 youth teams. Participating youth raised over $100,000 totaling 50 percent of the Relay income to date. A group of New Providence teens participated as “Team Super Nova.” One of the members, Camille Ake said, “Everyone on our team has at least one family member who has been affected by cancer and we came together to help the cause.” Another youth team, "The Sharpies" who attend Governor Livingston School had many teammates who were also Girl Scouts. They raised over $1,500.
“Relay for Life” is a unique overnight event where teams of people camp out around a track and members of the team take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event. Family friendly activities including a moon bounce and field games were available on Saturday afternoon.
Jeanne-Marie Mocarski brought her children Jacqueline, Jonathan, and Nicholas early for the family activities. Jeanne-Marie was a member of the Berkeley Heights P.B.A team.
Musical entertainment was provided by Mr. Ray, DJ Sandy and DJ Jon. The Starbucks Corporation also provided free beverages for the crowd and employees volunteered their time. This year, a food court was available for attendees with food being sold by local restaurants including Delicious Heights and Clementi’s Pizza. A portion of the revenue from food sales was donated to the cause.
Overlook Hospital hosted “The Survivor Celebration” where survivors and their caregivers were treated to a Buffet Dinner Reception. At the Opening Ceremony, caregivers and survivors told their stories. Berkeley Heights Mayor Joe Bruno, and Mountainside Mayor Paul Mirabelli commended the event and Berkeley Heights cheerleaders from grade 6 through high school performed for the crowd.
Relay Chairperson Linda Weber gave her heartfelt reflections and thanked the participants and the event’s many supporters. Weber stated, “At the end of the day, we just want to raise as much money as we possibly can for the American Cancer Society to put an end to these diseases. And we want everyone in these wonderful communities to be a part of that.”
The Opening Ceremony was followed by the “Survivors Lap.” As an annual part of the relay, the survivors, their caregivers and honored guests circle the track together in an inspirational lap to celebrate the victory that has been achieved over cancer.
Rich Borsos is a survivor who participated in the events for survivors. He was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and is a member of “Team Ashley Rose.” His daughter, Ashley Rose, had the idea for their team and the family had a bake sale at the event as a fund raiser.
The Relay had many on site fundraisers including hair braiding, balloon sales, and a very popular Basket Auction. “Team Torre” had a “Beads for Laps” booth where participants could use colored beads to track their laps. The sale of the necklaces was a way for participants to have a Relay souvenir. The Torre family participated in the “Relay for Life” for the past 6 years.
The Luminaria Ceremony was held after dark where luminaries that lined the entire track were lit to honor survivors and persons who have been lost to cancer. The Relay included the Fight Back Ceremony which was an opportunity to think and talk about how people can personally carry on the fight against cancer. Berkeley Height's "Relay for Life” concluded very early on Sunday morning with a Closing Ceremony and the event was a record breaking success.
For further information about the American Cancer Society and how you can support future fundraising efforts to fight cancer, please contact the Metro New Jersey Region Office on 986 South Springfield Avenue, Springfield. Phone (973) 379-2830
. The American Cancer Society website is www.cancer.org