CHATHAM, NJ - Hundreds of members of the community gathered at Haas Field on Saturday to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event. Forty-three teams participated in the event, dedicating their entire nights to walking around Haas Field and battling cancer one step at a time.

“In terms of goals we probably have about six hundred people here tonight which is incredible. We have forty three teams which also is incredible,” said Kyra Miller, Community Manager of Relay for Life. Last time I checked online we were at $99,000, and that’s not counting anything we have here in terms of onsite fundraisers that we have here.”

Chatham’s 2017 Relay for Life event raised a total of $106,543.82 for the American Cancer Society. The Wickham Woodpeckers took the lead in terms of fundraising, contributing a final total of $14,663. Following the Woodpeckers were Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer, raising $10,887, and Taking Strides to Save Lives with $8,757 raised.

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“It’s really awesome especially with middle school kids who are so willing to get involved and to be here tonight for six hours, and I mean you can look around and the majority of the event is kids,” Miller said. “It’s awesome that they’re willing to get involved at an early age and that they’re parents encourage them too.”

Two out of the top three teams were led by Chatham kids; Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer is a freshman girls team, and Taking Strides to Save Lives a middle school girls team.

“It’s really cool because it’s going toward something really important and close to heart for a lot of people on the team,” said Julia Leroy of Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer. “It just makes all of us feel like we did something good.”

Leroy and Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer are young veterans of Relay for Life. Fellow teammate Anya DiCosta described the team’s desire to return to Relay every year,

“It’s a fun way to raise money for a good cause. I have family members and friends who have been affected by cancer.”

Despite being an incredibly beneficial fundraiser for cancer research, the significance of Relay did not solely revolve around raising profits. The event provided the entire Chatham community with the opportunities to both celebrate the strength of beloved survivors, and to support one another as lost loved ones were remembered.

“Personally my favorite part of the event is the luminaria ceremony which takes place at 9 o’clock,” Miller said. “As someone who was a caregiver who lost their survivor, sitting at that bag and being supported by your community is an unbelievable feeling, and I hope that the community is able to feel that. It’s my favorite part of the night for that reason.”