Organizers in Manchester are already preparing for the community’s annual Relay For Life Event in June, coordinated through both a Planning Committee of local officials and the American Cancer Society.
The first step on the road to the relay will be the kickoff party, to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, at auditorium. At the party, interested persons may learn more about the relay and have the opportunity to sign up and participate in it. Manchester’s Relay For Life will be held at 5 p.m. on June 1 carrying over into June 2, also at the high school.
Sue Holland, an MTHS faculty member, has acted as chairperson for the Relay For Life for four years running — and considers the cause a personal one, since her own father is a 28-year survivor of bladder cancer. Holland could not be reached for comment for this article.
MTHS Principal Alex George said that the event was "a neat opportunity" for the school community to come together, and that watching the participants of previous incarnations of the relay was a wonderful sight to witness.
"The Relay For Life is a powerful experience, and the kick-off party gives you a glimpse of what the event looks like," George said. "This year, we're planning to have an Olympic theme, tying into the summer games in London — the kids will be so excited."
Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway said that both Manchester and the school community are “very excited” to participate in the next Relay For Life event and that each year has raised a significant amount of money for cancer research.
“The Relay For Life brings awareness to the cancer situation. Many of our students, our staff and our school community have been affected by cancer. Many of us know survivors too, and it’s good for all of us. It brings us all together to show that there is hope,” Trethaway said.
The superintendent said that he had also participated in previous Relay For Life events in Connecticut, due to having family members afflicted with the disease.
“When the Relay people came here to propose holding an event, I was the first one to say yes,” Trethaway said.
The relay itself is broken down into three sections; the Survivors Lap, the Luminaria Ceremony and the Fight Back Ceremony. The Survivors Lap honors those who have conquered the disease of cancer, while the Luminaria Ceremony remembers those who have not. The Fight Back Ceremony is a stand of mutual solidarity by participants against cancer.
Last year, a total of 461 participants from 30 teams . Those wanting to get involved with this year's relay can contact Holland by email, and attend the kick-off party in the high school auditorium.
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Dana Newton contributed reporting to this story.