The worthwhile mission to honor cancer survivors, remember victims, and raise money for research was evident at the kick-off celebration of Relay for Life of Madison/Florham Park at Powerhouse Studios on Wednesday, February 20th. Over 70 community members, municipal officials, and team captains gathered at East Hanover’s popular party facility to dine on a buffet of salad, chicken marsala, vegetable lasagna, risotto, freshly baked cookies, and fruit salad. The program served as a preview of the upcoming Relay, which is the annual major fundraising event of the American Cancer Society scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon, June 22nd, at Madison High School.

Tracey DePano, Director of Special Events for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, welcomed guests by sharing the true meaning of Relay for Life. “I am happy to be able to thank this group for the funds you have raised over the years and how we are able to celebrate more birthdays,” she said. DePano noted that her organization’s goal is to raise more than $80,000 from the June 2013 Relay.

Kristin Campilango, the American Cancer Society’s Senior Director, was also on hand to share her family’s story about fighting cancer. “It is an honor to share my family’s journey as well as speak about the American Cancer Society and all the programs and services we are providing in Morris County that are benefitting current patients in their fight against cancer,” Campilango said.

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Sources of funding include local and corporate sponsorships, in-kind contributions, and team fundraising. Prospective and returning team captains were asked to start bringing together friends, co-workers, and family members to raise money for the June event. The event’s website is The local Relay is also accessible on Facebook at

For the past five years, Kelly’s Angels was the top fundraising team in the local Relay. Barbara Bartolomeo of Florham Park, chairwoman of this year’s Relay and captain of Kelly’s Angels, spoke about the importance of Relay and how to get involved. “One of the ways to fight back is to create a team and become a team captain,” Bartolomeo said. She went on to ask the audience to “join with me in the fight and form a team.” As a result, six new teams were formed by the end of the kick-off celebration. Bartolomeo’s team walks in memory of her niece, Kelly O’Day of upstate New York, who died of melanoma in 2006, at age 16.

A highlight of the kick-off celebration was guest speaker Dr. Julie DiGioia, a surgeon who specializes in diseases of the breast, and a breast cancer survivor herself. DiGioia stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to help prevent and counter cancer. She also reminded the audience that the American Cancer Society offers the services of Hope Lodge to cancer patients in New York City free of charge. If their homes are far away, patients and their caregivers are able to stay overnight at the facility and receive transportation to local hospitals during their treatment.

Kick-off guests were treated to a slideshow of pictures from the 2012 Relay prepared by Florham Park resident and Relay committee member Chris Sardo. The program also featured a candle lighting ceremony to honor the memories of loved ones lost to cancer. Relay committee members were designated by boutonnières and corsages generously donated by Hanover Floral Co. of East Hanover. Powerhouse Studios also discounted the rental of its catering space.

During the kick-off, guests were given the opportunity to watch an inspirational Relay video, collect team captain kits, purchase Luminaria for use in June, and take home a souvenir cup and pen compliments of the American Cancer Society. Committee members distributed commemorative pins to survivors and caregivers in attendance.

Informational tables for guests included fundraising, mission and advocacy, survivor and caregiver, and activity suggestions for June’s Relay. Stacy Saul, a Florham Park resident, won a Visa gift card in a drawing.

Several municipal officials were in attendance to lend their support to Relay and help generate interest. They included Florham Park borough councilmen Charles Malone and David Wikstrom.

Joining Together

Relay For Life is a volunteer-driven community event that allows participants from all walks of life – including cancer survivors, families, friends, corporations, civic organizations, schools, religious groups, and concerned community members – to join together in the fight against cancer.

In 2013, more than four million people will come together in over 6,000 Relay events around the world to celebrate those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against this disease, making it the world’s largest movement to end cancer.

Relay For Life is an overnight celebration in which individuals and teams take turns circling a track relay style to benefit the American Cancer Society’s programs. At nightfall, participants light hundreds of luminary candles around the track in a touching ceremony honoring cancer survivors, as well as paying tribute to those lost to the disease.

The seventh annual Relay For Life of Madison/Florham Park will be held on the grounds of Madison High School from Saturday afternoon, June 22nd, to Sunday morning, June 23rd. While other activities are held on the high school grounds, a team member is required to be on the track at all times and can choose to walk, run, or skip around the all-weather track.

Members of the public are invited to participate in Relay by registering online at For a $10 commitment fee and at least $90 in fundraising, participants will receive a t-shirt to wear at Relay if registered online by Saturday, June 1st. The commitment fee at the event will be $15.

For information on volunteering or local corporate sponsorship, or to find out how to build a team for the Relay For Life of Madison/Florham Park, call (973) 285-8025 or visit

Passionate Fight

The American Cancer Society has nearly a century of experience in saving lives and ending suffering from cancer. With a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, the American Cancer Society works to help people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; by offering support after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer; and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight.

The American Cancer Society is the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $4 billion since 1985.  As a result, according to the Society, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society or to get help, call (800) 227-2345 anytime, day or night, or visit