Beginning Saturday and ending early Sunday morning, hundreds gathered at Windward Beach Park for the township’s eighth annual Relay for Life.
The purpose of the event was to celebrate the lives of those who battled cancer, the strength of the survivors to continue their lives and to remember those who lost their lives to the disease and to fight back toward putting an end to cancer.
By noon Saturday, many participants had set their tents up for the night long activities which would be comprised of several events: the traditional opening ceremony honoring survivors and their caregivers, the luminary ceremony – a time of reflection when the track is lit up, and directly before the relay ends – a closing prayer.
According to event chair Vieno Wurrent, these three events are staples of each Relay for Life across the states. Additionally, there were activities such as Zumba, a donut eating contest, tug of war and so many others.
Wurrent said participants fundraise prior to the relay and are able to check how much other participants have raised. For them, it’s a fun competition to see who can raise the most money. Thus, the activities throughout the event adds to the competitiveness of it. Since cancer never sleeps, activities take place all day and night long.
“I try to get at least two hours of sleep during it, but many don’t sleep at all,” she added.
Kicking off Saturday was the Survivor's Luncheon where survivors and their caregivers mingled and met with old and new friends and where volunteer and survivor Romayne Newman, 49, of Brick, briefly spoke to Patch about her struggle with cancer.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 39. My daughters at the time were 5 and 6 years-old. I found out I had it through a mammogram. While cancer runs in my family, I did not have the gene for it,” she said. “I went through many surgeries and chemo. I really promote the fact that you need to have a mammogram at a young age.”
Newman said she has been doing Brick’s Relay for Life since it started and enjoys meeting the volunteers -- she feels honored they give back. Her favorite part of the event is the luminary ceremony.
This year Brick exceeded its fund raising goal. With a combine total from former years, it raised well over $1 million. The money raised will go toward the American Cancer Society, which Wurrent said helps with research and education, patient and family services, and advocacy.
As a former employee of the American Cancer Society, Wurrent has worked with other relays and commends the volunteers of this event in particular.
“I am so proud of how smoothly it went. We even recruited some committee members for next year’s event,” she said. “I thank our supporters and contributors. It has been one of the best relays yet.”
Wurrent also stressed the importance of early detection and eating good and staying active as a ways to fight this disease.
If anyone is interested in donating or participating in next year’s relay, they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.relayforlife.org. This relay will continue to accept donations for this year’s event through Aug. 31.