"Our legs are tired, but our hearts are full" said Rabbi Stuart Gershon at the morning benediction for the event’s closing ceremony. After a night of walking, participants gathered in the early morning hours to walk one more lap. Over 2,000 people joined together this weekend at Relay For Life of Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Summit and Mountainside. This year’s event raised over $320,000 with 114 teams and 1,080 participants. Even flying cicadas couldn’t dampen the spirits of the people who gathered for this overnight event.
Preparations have been going on for more than 9 months. The Relay For Life Committee, co-chaired by Linda Weber and James Finley, has organized the event with the help of many people in these communities. The event started at 3:00 pm with tent site set-up and youth registration. The Survivor Reception, sponsored by Overlook Medical Center, hosted more than 100 cancer survivors. The event opened with survivors taking to the track for the first lap, followed by a lap with their caregivers. “After all the planning meetings and worrying about the details, it is wonderful to see so many people gathered together to fight the horrible disease” said Linda Weber.
This year’s event included a midnight-5K. A few dedicated Relayers have been running this 5K for years, but this year it became a formal event. More than 60 runners registered for the 5K, and joined the Relay participants on the track to begin the race.
This event brought members and businesses in the community together, helping each other to raise money for cancer research, support for cancer patients and survivors and caregivers. Fundraisers by teams have been held at local restaurants, businesses have sponsored teams and the event by purchasing signs, and donating goods to the event and teams. Additionally, area restaurants were on-site again this year in a food court. There were teams from Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Mountainside and Summit. Some of the event sponsors were: Overlook Medical Center, Starbucks, Trattoria di Francesca, Delicious Heights, Bake You Crazy, Deena's Delights, Friendly's, Twist With Me 2, Taylor Rental, Peter Traub Roofing and Contracting, Platinum Electrical Service, Rita's Water Ice, A&P Supermarket. Support was also provided by Township of Berkeley Heights, Berkeley Heights Fire Department, Berkeley Heights Police Department, Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad, Berkeley Heights Public Schools, Governor Livingston High School.