FAIR LAWN, NJ - The Fair Lawn & Glen Rock Relay for Life cancer fundraiser had raised $72,000, as of last night. The first-time combined effort not only brought in locals, but those from other towns.
West Milford High School students attended because they do not have a Relay event and most others were there to commemorate a survivor, someone they have lost or someone who is in the battle currently with cancer.
Relays occur during an overnight period, this one from 6 p.m. June 9 to 6 a.m. on June 10. Participants walk continuously and participate in sub-events that gather families, many of whom strike tents so they can nap if necessary. The families are usually those who have been hit by cancer. Survivors tell their stories, and organizations and individuals offer such things as a pie in the face for $2 per shot, giving it all to the cause. DJ Bonz donated his services for this event and there was a lip sync contest that had the teens jumping around, even at midnight.
Just before midnight, council people and mayors from both towns participated in a buddy stretch. Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Fair Lawn's mayor until just a few weeks ago and an avid runner and swimmer, led the stretch. Fair Lawn council people Cristina Cutrone, Josh Reinitz and Gail Rottenstrich participated, along with Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer and Fair Lawn Mayor Kurt Peluso, who buddied up to stretch.
Mayor Packer said he has participated in Glen Rock's separate Relays for years and would love to see Glen Rock host one, along with Fair Lawn.
The Relay is a moving event, with a field lined with luminary bags (white lunch-sized bags with a candle inside) decorated with personal messages about loved ones who have passed, those who still struggle and those in remission. Seemingly, it's personal for just about everyone who attends.
During the luminary ceremony, when the field darkens, the announcer asks if various members of attendees' families have passed from cancer. Little by little, almost everyone stands. Sniffles are everywhere, but the camaraderie of knowing they're not alone is visibly comforting.
Participants walk all night, because as they say, cancer doesn't quit so why should they? A little discomfort is "nothing compared to what cancer patients go through," said one volunteer.
When the final numbers come out, Fair Lawn & Glen Rock's effort will surely meet its goal and possibly surpass it. Can't wait till next year!