By Rob Glidden
Southington’s Relay for Life encouraged its huge crowd of attendees to see the “beauty in the world” as they gathered to celebrate the conclusion of another season of fundraising for cancer research.
The worldwide event has been represented in Southington for over a dozen years with the high school track as its location. The premise of Relay for Life is teams of volunteers camping out at the track and take turns walking around the track for 24 hours. 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 addition of the artificial turf field forced the organizers to change the layout of the Relay, but the crowds were still in attendance.
During the opening ceremonies, the leaders of the event urged the crowds to celebrate the incremental progress being made in the effort to cure the disease even though it continues to infect people all over the world.
“Research has gotten closer to a cure for cancer but there is still much more work to do,” said co-chair Robin Guzauckas. “That’s why we gather here.”
To drive that message home, a team of local singers and musicians came together on stage for a rendition of Macy Gray’s song “Beauty in the World.” The theme of this year’s Relay was “Where in the World is a Cure for Cancer?” which emphasizes the global nature of the effort. Participants were urged to write the names of countries on paper links to create a “Chain of Hope.”
“When we walk together, we are bigger than cancer,” said co-chair Joyce McAloon.
The Relay’s two key events are the Survivor Walk, which honors those who have battled the disease and are still around to talk about it and the Luminaria ceremony in the evening. When the sun goes down, the volunteers light candles, each one representing a person who has passed on after struggling with the disease.
Teams representing local businesses, organizations, schools or just a group of friends and family had their tents set up at the nearby lacrosse field. The “Carrie’s Cure” team was formed in honor of Carrie Day and her daughter, Laura Day, is the captain.
“I feel like it really does something good for people,” Laura said of Relay. “It’s personal to me.”
Her mother survived pancreatic cancer, which has a lethal reputation. Because of that, the family’s team is focusing specifically on it.
“There’s a lot out there about some of the other cancers but not as much for pancreatic, which is one of the deadliest,” Carrie Day said. “I was very lucky to have survived.”
In another area adjacent to the track, teams organized a “marketplace” for people to buy various items and contribute further to the cause. Trevor Rogers manned the table for the STEPS team along with Reilly Lincavicks and Sarah Lamb.
“We have a lot of team members and it’s going really well,” he said. “It’s great how it brings people together.”
By Rob Glidden