By Rob Glidden
The volunteers who make up Southington’s annual Relay for Life looked back on the event’s successes as the kickoff for the 2013 Relay began at Hawk’s Landing.
Last year’s fundraiser took in $178,000. After the Relay’s expenses were taken care of, $164,000 was given to the American Cancer Society. This result places the Southington event within the top 30 in New England and the top 10 in Connecticut when it comes to success.
Co-chairs Joyce McAloon and Robin Guzauckas expressed pride in how the Relay has grown more successful with each passing year. Guzauckas noted that the very first Southington Bark for Life event last fall had raised $1,700 that will go towards this year’s Relay for Life.
McAloon, who has been involved with the event for a number of years, praised the Southington schools for being a major part of the Relay’s ongoing success.
“I went to my first meeting and when I left, I was liaison to all the schools,” she recalled. “I’m so proud of the school system in this town. It just warms my heart to see all those banners.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society. Dave Andros, the current ACS representative assigned to Southington, outlined the organization’s accomplishments over the last century with an emphasis on the last two decades. He said cancer mortality in America had reached its peak in 1991 but has been on a steady decline since then.
“When you join the Relay, you’re joining a winning team,” he said. “Some of that team’s most valuable players are right here in Southington.”
This year, the ACS is also conducting another cancer prevention study. Similar to the effort in 2008, participants in this year’s Relay will be invited to sign up for an ambitious study meant to help provide more information about the causes of cancer and possible ways to prevent it.
The theme for the 2013 Southington Relay is “Where in the world is a cure for cancer?” This slogan highlights how Relay for Life has become a truly global event and it was mentioned that all the Relay activities around the world had raised a total of $4.25 billion since the initiative was founded.
“There are horrible things out there, as we well know,” Guzauckas said. “But we come together for a really positive thing – a cure for cancer.”
This year’s Relay For Life is somewhat earlier than it has been in the past, beginning on Friday, May 31 and continuing until Saturday, June 1. Another major difference will be the condition of the high school field that serves as the venue each year.
With the new turf field installed, there was concern that Relay might need a different location. However, McAloon told the crowd that the event would still be at the high school and more details about how artificial turf affects the activities would be forthcoming.
“There will be some changes, but the things that make Relay what it is will still be there,” McAloon said.