By KAITLYN NAPLES
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society, and the ninth year for Plainville’s Relay for Life, an annual event that brings laughter, tears, remembrance, and creates lasting memories.
“We’re going to relay big this year,” Scott Barnes, chairman of the Plainville Relay for Life committee, said at last week’s kick-off event at J. Timothy’s. He announced this year’s theme as “The Big Top Relay,” which will spark interesting ideas of themed tents, teams and individuals who are taking strides, literally, to fight cancer of all kinds.
As of last week, Plainville’s Relay for Life already had 101 participants and has raised over $2,000 and still has six months to go. Over the last nine years, the Relay in Plainville has raised a little over $615,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.
“And we’re looking to top last year’s number,” said Lisa Levesque, a three-year participant of the Plainville Relay for Life, adding that the event raised about $80,000 in 2012.
The Relay for Life originally was initiated in the mid-1980s by Dr. Gordy Klatt in Tacoma, Wash. with a 24-hour run. Klatt wanted to help raise money to fight cancer, and he ran 83 miles in 24-hours and charged individuals who wanted to join him. The $27,000 he raised was donated to fight cancer. Unfortunately, Klatt was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year, but is still fighting.
“We’ve all been touched by cancer in some way or another,” Levesque said about the volunteers and participants in Plainville’s annual Relay for Life. She said she is encouraging anyone interested in participating to either join an already existing team, or form a new one, and join the annual event this year.
“It is always such a great time,” which happens in either rain or shine, Levesque said.
At last week’s kick-off event, Miss Forestville’s Outstanding Teen Jillian Duffy, 15, spoke about the Relay for Life and remarked on the difference it makes.
Duffy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) two years ago, and is now in remission and her treatments will continue until March. She went through clinical trials to test various treatments and medications, which are made possible in part by donations.
“Being part of the cure was an amazing opportunity,” Duffy said, adding she and her family have always been supportive of Relay for Life, and even more so after her diagnosis.
Now, 80 to 85 percent of children with ALL go into remission, Duffy said, and added that it wouldn’t be possible without the Relay for Life and donations made to cancer research.
This year, the national theme for Relay for Life is “Dream Big, Hope Big, Relay Big,” and Barnes said the Plainville Relay will do just that and is looking at a goal of 30 teams, at least, and to raise at least $86,000.
New for 2013 will be different fundraising tactics and events before and during the relay. There also is a challenge for all teams to have at least 13 members on their team. Levesque added that she encourages cancer survivors, caretakers, supporters, families and children to attend the annual event because “there is something for everyone.”
The Plainville Relay for Life will be held on Saturday, June 8, starting at 10 a.m. It will last 24 hours, with events going on all day and all night. Barnes said the Relay encourages teams to have members participate all night because “cancer never sleeps.”
The Plainville Relay will be held at Norton Park, 197 South Washington St. There are monthly captain meetings, and dates and times are listed below, and also committee meetings every month held at the Plainville Public Library at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, or to sign up, visit Plainville’s page at www.relayforlife.org/plainvillect, or www.Plainvillerelay.org.
Monthly Captain meetings are held at J. Timothy’s Taverne at 6:30 p.m.: Wednesday’s: Feb. 27; March 20; April 24; May 29.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.
By KAITLYN NAPLES