CLARK– The American Cancer Society, along with Clark Township, will be hosting an overnight “Birthday Party”, expecting more than 1,000 guests. However, this is not a birthday celebration in the usual sense.
Union County and surrounding communities are invited to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Clark. A birthday is a special day on the calendar for just about anybody—but it’s a particularly meaningful milestone to cancer survivors and their families. Relay For Life offers cancer survivors and their loved ones a chance to celebrate all the additional candles on their cakes since their time of diagnosis.
The Third Annual Relay For Life of Clark is planned for Friday, June 11, at Arthur L. Johnson High School Athletic Field, 365 Westfield Avenue, Clark. Registration / Check-in opens at 4 p.m. This rain-or-shine event begins at 6 p.m. Friday evening and will continue throughout the night, ending Saturday morning at 6 a.m.
Relay For Life is not your typical fundraiser. It’s a unique opportunity for everyone to make a serious difference in the fight against cancer while celebrating life, hope for the future, and a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Individuals and teams of all types walk, run or move around a track “relay” style. Many teams have a representative on the track at all times during the duration of the event. Donations collected at Relay For Life of Clark support research, advocacy, and patient services.
Most teams raise funds for ACS prior to the event, while others continue collecting contributions by holding fun “mini-fundraising” activities around the track during the night. Relay not only raises contributions – it also raises awareness by educating the community and showing ways to fight back against this devastating disease.
The event begins with opening ceremonies featuring the “Survivor Celebration Lap” where hundreds of cancer survivors proudly walk, move, or run, together around the track. This uplifting atmosphere sets the stage for the importance of supporting the American Cancer Society’s efforts to help people get well, stay well, fight back and find cures.
The survivors are then joined on the track by caregivers, followed by their teams, friends and loved ones. Once the event is under way, the area surrounding the track is transformed into a “party-like” setting: music, raffles, games, food, dancing and entertainment are abundant. Some teams decorate their tents and campsites, others dress in a colorful manner, or wear custom made t-shirts to identify which team they belong to.
At nightfall, the true reason for Relay For Life is conveyed in an emotionally moving Luminaria Ceremony to honor cancer survivors and to remember those lost to the disease. Volunteers light hundreds of candles that illuminate the perimeter of the track and guide participants during a “silent lap”. Each candle represents the life of an individual who’s been touched by cancer. The candles are left burning throughout the night as a reminder of the actual significance of Relay For Life.
Relay participants are empowered by learning to “fight back” against cancer in a number of ways. One way is by joining the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). ACS supports the belief that everyone should have fair and equal access to quality medical care. Those who become members of ACS CAN make a direct impact on decisions regarding legislation and funding for disease prevention and early detection. One current example in New Jersey is the “Provide Prostate and Colorectal Cancer Treatment Act”. ACS CAN is pushing for legislation to insure potentially lifesaving treatment for all diagnosed, regardless of economic status.
Friends and families of survivors can fight back during the Relay For Life of Clark event by volunteering for the American Cancer Society’s nationwide Cancer Prevention Study, known as “CPS-3”. This is an ongoing statistical study where researchers track data on participant’s lifestyles as well as genetic and environmental factors in hopes of finding new ways to prevent cancer from occurring in the first place. Clark Township’s Relay was chosen exclusively as the only event in “Metro” New Jersey that will feature CPS-3 enrollment opportunities until Spring 2011.
Relay For Life, first held in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington, has raised over $3.2 billion at more than 5,000 events across the USA. In addition to Clark Township, seventy-six other communities throughout New Jersey will host Relay events during 2010.
New and existing teams or individuals are welcome to help the American Cancer Society by joining Relay For Life in the fight against cancer. For information on volunteer opportunities, contact Beatriz Newborn, American Cancer Society at 908-354-7373 opt 3, ext 244, or Sheila Whiting, Volunteer Event Chairperson at 732-388-0848. To learn more, email: Clark.Relay@cancer.org, or visit the web at www.relayforlife.org/clarknj .
Jackie Shrubsall ready to lead the Opening Lap at last year’s American Cancer Society – Relay For Life of Clark. At eight years old, she was the youngest cancer survivor at the 2009 event. Shrubsall who is now cancer free, is a member of the Rahway Regional Cancer Center Survivor Team.
Jesse Hershkowitz, known as “Urbalist” leads the “Fight Back Ceremony” at last year’s American Cancer Society – Relay For Life of Clark. Hershkowitz, a three-year cancer survivor, performs original rap songs written while going through his own personal battle with cancer.
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