BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Purple Ninjas along with the growing number of youth teams make up 75% of the 907 participants and 106 teams at the Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, New Providence and Summit Relay for Life event being held at Gov. Livingston High School on Saturday, June 7.
"We have an incredible mix between adults and youth," said Linda Weber, Relay for Life Event Chairperson. "The unique combination of adults and youth is really terrific -- having the adults in our communities model their charitable behavior for the kids. Kids also see the adults in action, doing something great for the community and they're doing it side by side with each other."
Middle school participation is up from last year from the efforts of a team of high school students that joined the committee and revigorated students at Columbia and New Providence Middle Schools. "Next year we will get Deerfield and Summit," said Weber.
The student groups have been seen in the community promoting their fundraising efforts through bake sales, garage sales, jewelry sales, car washes and businesses donating a percentage of proceeds. Daddy's Crew, a group of Gov. Livingston students, performed a Cabaret for a Cure to benefit Relay for Life. These kids are learning valuable life lessons in addition to raising money for a good cause.
The relay, a team-based walk, is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society to fight the disease, as well as an opportunity to unite as a community to honor cancer survivors and raise awareness about what the ACS does and its local services, and what people can do to reduce their cancer risk.
Teams camp out on the field, and members take turns walking laps, so that at least one team member is on the track throughout the 12 hours. "The idea is that cancer never sleeps, so we always have to be on watch," said Weber.
The evening will start with a Survivors Lap, where all cancer survivors are invited to walk the first lap to kick off the event.
This event attracts the entire community and is geared to entertain all ages. Back by popular demand is the dunk tank sponsored by Taylor Rental and the AT&T Pioneers as well as the children's bounce house and a bounce obstacle maze for older kids at heart. Tonya will be leading Zumba at 7:30 p.m. and organized flag football and corn hole toss tournaments will be ongoing. Carnival games will be set up by the Recreation Department and the Gamin Ride truck sponsored by iQmedia will be on site for video game amusement. The DJ entertainment is provided by Sandy and Tom.
Food will be available for purchase from local new eateries in town including Sherman BBQ, Pete's Place Family Restaurant @ Yogoccino, and Garden of Eden Marketplace. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated back to Relay for Life. Cook'n for a Cure will be serving Hot Dogs and frozen Rita's Water Ice.
Luminaria will be available to purchase the night of the event. Many teams will continue to fundraise and the Relay Store will be selling gear and wear. A silent auction with 40 baskets and 50/50 raffle will be held.
3:00 p.m. - Campsite set-up.
6:00 p.m. - Opening Ceremony: Performance by Gov. Livingston seniors Mukta Phatak and Steven LaMaita; Star Spangled Banner performed by professional opera singer Linda Engiograsi. Opening Speech by Shannon Vick and survivor lap.
7:30 - Zumba with Tonya
9:00 p.m. - The Highlander Band Bagpipers will kick off the Luminaria walk and the Hickory Tree Singers will perform. Luminary Ceremony Speech by caregiver Karina Altanese. Fight Back Speech by Margaret Illis.
11:00 p.m. - Participants not sleeping over must exit the event.
Midnight - 5K Run for the Cure
5:30 a.m. - Benediction by Rev. Tom Haverly of St. Andrews Episcopal Church.
Berkeley Heights Police, Fire Department and the Volunteer Rescue Squad will be present to keep the relayers safe.