CHATHAM, NJ - On Saturday, June 3rd, Chatham will be hosting its fifth annual Relay for Life event at Haas Field.
Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser of the American Cancer Society, with 5,200 communities and 27 countries participating in the event.
Last year’s Relay for Life event in Chatham included the participation of 49 different teams, raising $156,000 for the American Cancer Society. Over the past four years, the Chatham community has raised a total $463,000 at relay to contribute toward cancer research studies, patient care programs, and education & preventive initiatives.
At the head of the pack for Chatham’s 2017 relay teams are the Wickham Woodpeckers, who have raised a total of $10,528 for the event. The Wickham Woodpeckers have already surpassed their fundraising goal of $10,000. Following closely behind the Woodpeckers are Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer, with over $8,000 raised, and Taking Strides to Save Lives, with over $6,000 raised.
According to Chatham resident Kyra Miller, Community Manager of Relay for Life, the goal of the event “this year is to raise $150,000, having 600 participants, 50 teams, while celebrating the lives of 30 survivors.”
This will be Miller’s first year running the event in Chatham.
“I have heard nothing but great things about the event” Miller said. “I have worked 11 different Relay For Life events as staff and each one is different. Chatham is actually where I live now, so it is an incredible experience to now be able to work within my own community on an event that means so much to me.”
Like many Relay for Life participants around the world, Miller has her own personal reasons for dedicating so much of her life to helping the ACS fight cancer.
“My father was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was a junior in high school, and unfortunately lost his battle just three years later,” said Miller. “Relay For Life was an event he felt healed him. It made him feel like he could go on, he felt supported, and loved. When I came out of college, I knew there was nothing I wanted to do more than manage Relay For Life events.
"Now I am on my 11th year of Relaying and could not love it any more. My dad is my “why”, but I continue to do it year after year because I know the personal impact it can have. The Power of Purple is incredible!”
Relay is a team fundraiser event: each member will take turns walking around Haas field throughout the night to honor cancer patients who persevered through their battle without rest. Teams will also be setting up themed campsites around the field, where they will collect donations for food, games, and activities to go toward their final fundraising goal.
The event will kick off at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening with an opening ceremony to celebrate survivors and those currently battling cancer. Following the ceremony, there will be a Survivor’s Lap -- honoring the strength of individuals who have overcome cancer, and a Caregiver’s Lap -- honoring those who have supported someone battling cancer.
The Luminaria Ceremony, one of the most emotionally touching points of the evening, will begin at 9 p.m. Participants will dedicate a luminaria to a loved one lost to cancer, lighting their bags in unison and comforting one another as they remember those they’ve lost. A closing ceremony will be held at midnight to conclude the profound evening.