Residents and cancer survivors joined together on Saturday, April 5th at the First Wesleyan Church on Goldsborough Street in Easton to kickoff Relay for Life Talbot County. The kickoff party is designed to provide information about Relay and to entice people to join in.
Attendees were greeted by Relay for Life décor and symbols of hope throughout the entryway and the room. Chairwoman for this year’s event, Robin Marshall, provided details of this year’s relay and shared her enthusiasm regarding significant changes about the event. Relay for Life Talbot County will be held in the daytime from noon to midnight, as opposed to an overnight event that was done in previous years, and is set to take place on a Saturday, September 13, 2014 at the Easton High School Warrior Stadium. She believes that changing the day of the week and the time of day will encourage more participation from families and community members. The new location at the high school provides a safe, level, and amply lit environment for participants, along with ease of access and parking.
She announced the theme for this year, “Relighting Relay’s Spirit, Keep it Burning”, reminding participants that their support is important for our community and we want to continue this event for many years to come. Committee members are encouraging teams to select an Olympic sport and country for their costumes, spirit stick and table display.
Following Marshall’s introduction, the entire audience participated in a 15 minute physical activity led by Erin Fluharty from Jazzercise of Easton which provided audience members with a sample of the entertainment and activities that are offered during the Relay.
Dr. Roberta Lilly, Medical Director of the UM Shore Regional Health Comprehensive Breast Center addressed the audience and shared her personal experience with cancer. She detailed her role as caregiver for her husband who passed away from prostate cancer. She encouraged participants to continue to educate about screening for all cancers. “Knowledge over disease makes you feel like you have power over disease. We think if we know about it, it can’t happen,” says Lilly. “Someone once asked me if it ever got to me, telling people they had breast cancer. I realized it’s one of the better parts of my day to tell people they have this diagnosis, but it’s very treatable. I get to bring them hope.”
Paula Larrimore, who has been participating in the Relay for 18 years, spoke about why she chooses to Relay. Larrimore’s father Victor was a 25 year survivor before passing away from a second cancer in 2001. She said that she was able to have her father around growing up because of Cancer Research and it is very meaningful to see more people wearing purple survivor shirts at the Relay. She is the accounting committee chair, manager of the event website and co-captain of the Shore Regional Cancer Caregivers team. Her hopes are that with the research funded by Relay, that one day cancer would be eradicated.
A pot-luck luncheon provided refreshment to attendees prior to a closing ceremony led by Chairwoman Robin Marshall. Marshall introduced each team and they proudly paraded around luminaria bags that were placed to represent the track at the Relay event. Teams donned attire that corresponded with their chosen Olympic Sport and Country, all while lifting the excitement and anticipation for this year’s event. Afterward, group and individual team photos were taken to document the kickoff.
While attendees said they look forward to the social aspect of Relay, they participate for a greater cause – to raise awareness of and funds needed for cancer research. But just as important, they walk to show their support to those affected by cancer.
“It really does make a difference,” said Robin Marshall, Chairwoman the event and captain of the Hearts of Gold team. “You see the results – you’re supporting people in our community that have cancer. Relay shows them they’re not alone.” “Relay helps families get through the hard times,” she said. Robin has been participating in Relay for Life for 7 years. She relay’s in memory of her grandfather, father-in-law, sister-in-law, a special cat “Chessie” and several friends, whom have all died from cancer.
“I participate in Relay every year because cancer has personally affected my life along with the people around me and someday I want to see it end,” she said. “It’s a fun time and you raise a lot of money for a great cause. I would like to see more people get involved for such a great cause.”
American Cancer Society spokeswoman Julia Foxwell said the Relay for Life is a fun event where people can give something back to friends and loved ones.
“It’s a safe place to come and remember people who lost their battle to cancer or come and celebrate people still with us today,” Foxwell said.
Foxwell’s personal experience with cancer started when she was 8 and her mom received her first breast cancer diagnosis. The disease continued to follow her around “like the villain in a cartoon” affecting classmates, friend, colleagues and even friend’s children. “I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the treatment of the disease and those who are living with it” said Foxwell.
The goal is to raise $37,000 to help cancer patients in the Talbot County area.
To join or form a team, or to volunteer for the 2014 Relay for Life in Talbot County, visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY14SA?pg=entry&fr_id=61547 or contact event chair Robin Marshall at 410-310-5747 or by e-mail at email@example.com