RANDOLPH, NJ- Seven Mayors from seven different towns got together to help support the fight against cancer by promoting The American Cancer Society Relay for Life on March 20. Chairperson of the Relay for Life of Morris County, Bonnie Rosenthal, and the committee worked tirelessly to get these seven communities together to make the overall event bigger and better than before.
"The mayors stood there firsthand with people who had survived cancer or are currently battling cancer," said Rosenthal. "To see it happen was amazing."
The Relay for Life of Central Morris County encompasses seven towns that include Parsippany, Denville, Dover, Mt. Lakes, Randolph, Rockaway Borough and Rockaway Township.
The seven mayors and town council members were invited to the kick-off event held in January. Randolph resident, Rosenthal, spoke to Mayor James B. Loveys, who suggested doing a proclamation for the committee. After agreeing to the idea, the committee invited the other six mayors to do the same. Denville Mayor Thomas Andes suggested getting all the mayors together for a photo showing their support.
Currently, the committee is having proclamations from each town presented at town council meetings where Rosenthal will speak on the cause and help bring more people to the Relay for Life. Proclamations were already presented in Randolph, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township and Denville. Dover's will be held on April 22 and Parsippany's on May 13.
"The relay is in every continent now throughout the world," said Rosenthal. "I think it just kind of spread like wildfire. Communities have said they wanted this in their community. They want to do this."
There has been a Relay For Life in Parsippany for eight years. The past two years Denville had their own relay. Rosenthal was curious to know why two relays were done in such nearby towns. She learned that people generally like to participate in events in their own towns. Rosenthal now wants to help bring more people to the Parsippany relay. In her attempts of doing so, the relay name was changed from Relay for Life of Greater Parsippany to Relay for Life of Morris County, with mayoral support.
Rosenthal and her family first attended the Relay for Life of Greater Parsippany in 2008 and 2009 for a family friend’s son diagnosed with cancer. Rosenthal recalls it being an amazing, life changing experience. She instantly wanted to become a part of the committee.
"The second year that we went I didn't want to leave," said Rosenthal, "because I thought it was so amazing and such a moving event."
Rosenthal has been no stranger to cancer. Both her maternal grandparents died of cancer when she was fairly young. Her adopted grandmother, many friends, and loved ones have all died from cancer.
In fall 2009, Rosenthal's adopted grandmother’s cancer progressed as another family friend battled with a brain tumor. She went to her mother and told her she wanted to form a Relay for Life team of her own in honor of her grandmother and friend. The next step was attending the kick-off to the season, followed by a team captain meeting. It was at that team captain meeting where Rosenthal's mother agreed to be her co-team captain. In 2010, Rosenthal had her own team called the Rainbow Racers and became very involved in the committee.
"We say Rainbow Racers love, honor and unite," said Rosenthal, "the concept of the rainbow being a connection. A lot of people who have cancer, they're putting up the fight of their lives, literally and figuratively. We should be celebrating these people's lives. When we've lost someone to the disease we got to do stuff to put an end to it."
For this relay, there are activities and entertainment for everyone of all ages. There will be a magic show, face painters, a balloon artist, karate demonstration and all different things that are just between the hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Relay goes through the night from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. because "cancer doesn't sleep."
At a Relay for Life event, cancer survivors are celebrated and given purple survivor shirts. The American Cancer Society offer many services for survivors and family members. The Look Good Feel Better program helps survivors receive help with their appearance related to side effects. There is also a Reach to Recovery group, which is a breast cancer survivor group. The program transports cancer patients to and from treatment. There are hair loss and mastectomy products, and a 24 hour help line available all year round. There is also the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program that connects you with a patient navigator at a cancer treatment center.
"I couldn't stop the cancer from taking her life," said Rosenthal about her grandmother's passing, "but I could do something to combat the cancer that is affecting so many of my friends and loved ones. I can do something so that those people who have cancer have the ability to get services that so many people are not aware of that exist."
The event will be on Saturday, May 31 to Sunday, June 1 at Smith Field in Parsippany. Opening ceremonies will take place at 4 pm. with registration opening at 2 p.m. Closing ceremonies will occur at 6 a.m. on Sunday. There will be an exclusive survivor reception. For more information or to get involved, people can contact Brandie Engelberger at (973) 285-8029 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.relayforlife.org/centralmorriscountynj.
The local American Cancer Society office is located at 7 Ridgedale Ave. in Cedar Knolls. There are patient navigators and support groups in Morristown Medical Center as well as other local hospitals.
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