By SHERIDAN ROY
The 21st Southington Relay for Life has hit the ground running with a kick-off event on Jan. 23 to discuss changes, new ideas, and to bring teams together. This year’s event will begin on Friday, May 31 and end on Saturday, June 1.
The biggest change this year is the timing. In the past, the Relay has always been a 24-hour event, however event coordinator Joyce MacAloon recognized that was a difficult time commitment to make for many participants. This year, the Relay will begin at 4 p.m. and finish up at 9:30 a.m.
“We realize that everybody is so busy, and there are many other causes that this community wants to give time and resources to,” said MacAloon. “We want to spread the wealth.”
At Relay for Life, teams camp overnight. The idea is to have at least one team member on the track for the entirety of the event to represent the team. Relay for Life officials hope with the condensed timeframe, more participants will join.
“The more you’re out on that track, the more you experience what [cancer patients] go through,” said MacAloon. There will also be raffles and other activities throughout the night to encourage teams to participate.
The theme for the 21st year is board games. With a tagline, “Game on, Cancer: Join the Fight and Find a Cure,” each team will pick a board game and make their own tag line that play’s on the game’s objective.
Torree Saunders and Patricia Justice, 10-year veterans of the Southington Relay, are forming their own team for the first time this year.
“The Relay is a lot of fun and there are activities for everyone,” said Justice. “A couple of family members had cancer, and this is one way to support them, and to also listen to other people’s stories.”
Saunders said she looks forward to coming with family each year and spreading awareness for those battling cancer. “The more awareness, the better,” she said.
According to senior manager of the American Cancer Association Alexis Maliga, the cancer death rate has declined by 27 percent since 1991.
“So much of that is because of events like this that help to provide treatment and support,” she said. “That translates to hundreds of thousands of lives saved.”
One of Southington’s long-time Relay participants, Jean Rose, comes back every year because she understands what that support means for someone with cancer.
“I am a survivor of breast cancer. I had it for 17 years,” said Rose. “My team name is ‘Jean’s Angels in Action.’ My family and friends are my angels. They were my support when I was suffering.”
Jean’s Angels in Action usually features around 25 team members.
Leading up to the Relay, there will be a number of fundraising opportunities through local businesses who wish to support the cause. There are already some fundraisers in the works, including “Hopes on the Slopes” through Mount Southington, and a family bowling night. A portion of the proceeds at these events will support the Relay. More details are to come.
Committee meetings will be held on Tuesdays, Feb. 5, March 5, April 2, May 7, and May 21, 6 to 7 p.m. at Southington High School. Team meetings and registration will follow, from 7 to 8 p.m.