For the fourth year in a row, Manchester residents did their part for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, a fundraiser and cancer awareness event held on the campus of .
Though grey skies and rain threatened Friday , nothing could damper the enthusiasm, hard work and faith of all involved to ensure that the event would be a success.
“This is going to be a lot of fun, there’s a lot of positive emotions here. It’s never rained on Relay For Life day before, but we’re ready to roll with whatever happens," said chairperson Sue Holland, a special education teacher at the high school.
Holland added that alternate plans had been made to move the event inside the high school in the event of rain. As it began to pour late Friday evening, that's what happened.
Last year, participants raised over $43,000 during the walk around the school's track. However, officials say monetary support, while wonderful, is not necessarily everything.
“Though this is very successful, this is really more than a fundraiser,” said Holland. “What’s really a big part of it is celebrating the memories of those we’ve lost, and the survivors who won their battles with the disease. Also, to point out the resources available to those who are fighting it now.”
American Cancer Society Staff Partner Jennifer Hernandez said that the financial goal of the event was to raise $50,000, and that between online donations, related fundraising and other donations, there was a good chance that the goal would be met this year.
Hernandez said that Relay For Life, beyond being a fundraiser, is more of a community event than anything else.
“We began work on this six months ago, got the word out, and you can see the response,” said Hernandez, regarding the very healthy turnout the event received.
Hernandez said that 375 participants had registered for the relay, comprising 44 teams (with names like “Riley’s Rejects," “Oriental Express" and “Bosom Buddies”), and complimented the Manchester Township School District for their unwavering support.
“They’ve helped us with the grounds, students and teachers got involved, it’s been wonderful,” she said.
Participants were welcome to stay for any amount of time, but the event ran overnight, symbolizing the constant fight against cancer.
In an emotional address prior to the Survivors Lap, paraprofessional Christine Mellea described surviving her own battle with cancer, and also spoke of how she lost her mother to the disease.
Ridgeway’s “Bosom Buddies” team banded together in Mellea’s honor to support, and raised over $3,000 for the cause in the process.
Theresa Marcinczyk, a secretary at and a member of the “MTES Dragons” team, said that she lost her cousin to brain cancer at age 55, and was participating in her memory.
“A healthier woman, you would never have seen,” Marcinczyk said of her cousin, prior to her diagnosis.
Referring to the Relay For Life event, Marcinczyk described the mood here as “very moving.”
“There’s a feeling of hope, which is something that so many people who have cancer are looking to find,” said Marcinczyk.
Other events scheduled during the relay included the “Rita's Ice Olympics,” midnight Zumba, Junior Olympics and various American Cancer Society programs designed to help those living with the disease improve their lives.
“The spirit of the event is something you have to experience for yourself. Just about everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, and we come together in support of each other and in the hope that we can end this terrible disease,” Holland said prior to the event.