By Rob Glidden
This year’s Relay for Life will look a little different, but organizers are planning on delivering the same hopeful experience for the huge crowd who will attend.
The annual fundraiser has been held at the Southington High School football field for over a decade and this year the new artificial turf field has changed the landscape.
“Logistically, some things had to change,” said Robin Guzauckas, co-chair of the event. “We can’t put tents on the field, so now they will be on the lacrosse field. We’re trying to keep it as connected as we can.”
During the overnight event, teams of volunteers camp out at the track and take turns walking around the track. Each team is encouraged to have at least one member on the track at all times to illustrate that cancer never sleeps. This year, the theme is “Where in the World is a Cure for Cancer?” which is meant to highlight Relay for Life’s distinction as the world’s largest fundraiser.
In the past, the grass field hosted dozens of tents for the teams to gather and sell items for additional fundraising. However, the stakes used to hold up these tents are not allowed on the new field. The nearby lacrosse field will host tents and the Relay organizers also plan to have a “marketplace” area on the paved walkway that leads from the Vo-Ag Building to the football field.
“It’s definitely a major change but it may work even better,” said co-chair Joyce McAloon. “Little hurdles like that aren’t going to stop us. We still have our mission in mind.”
The actual event is preceded by months of volunteer work and events. All throughout the month of May, participants were encouraged to “paint Southington purple.”
“The teams have been very receptive to it,” Guzauckas said. “It’s fun to drive around and see the purple bows on mailboxes.”
Nearly 60 teams are participating in this year’s Relay and most of them walk onto the field with funds already raised from their own events. Foxy’s Paws for a Cause, which represents Plantsville Elementary School, has done at least one fundraiser each month since the beginning of the school year in September.
A “Mommy and Me Spa Day” event at the Masonic Lodge, which invited the community to peruse a variety of beauty products from different vendors, had a line out the door and raised $1,400. A recent tag sale event raised another $700. This has inspired the team to try more ambitious events and they are planning an “Amazing Race” style competition in June.
“We’ve done extremely well,” said team captain Kim Beaudoin. “It’s been phenomenal and I’m really excited. We’ve had great turnouts at our fundraisers.”
This year’s Relay for Life begins at 4 pm on Friday, May 31 and will continue until Saturday, June 1. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 6 p.m.