MONTVILLE, NJ – After a several-year hiatus, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life was brought back to Montville Township with a bang, raising more than $40,000 towards curing a disease that has touched the lives of just about everyone.

The event was held June 1 at the Montville Township High School football field, and is a sort of gathering to honor survivors and caregivers, share a hopeful spirit, and raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Chair for the event Ellen Brody Decker said that teams worked hard to raise funds toward beating cancer, a “terrible, destructive disease that continues to affect the lives of loved ones.”

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“It’s something we simply cannot ignore,” she told the assembled survivors, caregivers, and fundraisers. “We have an advantage over cancer because of the courage, empathy, determination and hope of people like you, and together, we can make the greatest impact to saving lives.”

Mayor Richard Conklin said the disease touched his family personally.

“You are all heroes for being here and helping to fight back,” he told the assembly. “We all need to continue to support and fund cancer research until we have eradicated this disease completely.”

Five years ago, with a son who was four months old, Conklin’s daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma, Conklin told TAPinto Montville. She was in her 30s. With the help of doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she was cured.

“That’s why I’m here,” he said.

Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education President Charles Grau told TAPinto Montville he was an enthusiastic fundraiser as a two-time cancer survivor himself. The board of ed team was the third-highest fundraising team at the event.

“I had basal cell cancer 10 years ago and five years ago,” he said. “I lost my oldest son to leukemia in 1982, and my second oldest son was diagnosed in 1999 but fortunately we didn’t lose him. We always support the ACS in any way we can, for the research they do to stamp out this terrible disease.”

Resident Janice Aibel is also a cancer survivor and attended the event.

“I was diagnosed with kidney cancer many years ago – it was picked up by accident through a blood test,” she said. “There is no chemo for kidney cancer – if they don’t get it with surgery, it’s fatal. I had my kidney removed and it was successful, but I get myself checked every four months. So far, so good.”

The event was highlighted by a dinner for survivors and caregivers, food trucks, a pilates demonstration, dancing, and karaoke by kids from Pathways for Exceptional Children. There was even a cannoli eating contest. Paper bags decorated with inspirational messages called luminarias lined the running track. Each had a battery candle inside, which was lit later in the evening. Between events, attendees walked laps around the track, reading the inspirational messages on the paper bags, meeting and making new friends, and sharing the message of hope.

Top Fundraising Teams:

  1. The Shul Rules – Temple Beth Am, led by Rabbi Andrew Sklarz
  2. The Guardian Angels – led by Cliff Losen
  3. Montville Board of Education – led by Karen Cortellino

Top Fundraisers:

  1. Lenore Drucks
  2. Ira Decker
  3. Cliff Losen

Boy Scout Troop 74 and VFW Montville Post 5481 brought in the colors.

So far, the event has raised $40,031. Go to Montville Relay if you would like to make a donation. The website will be open until the end of July.

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