NUTLEY, NJ – Hope and inspiration filled the air during the 2020 Kickoff Celebration to formally launch the 14th Annual Relay For Life of Nutley’s fundraising efforts on Thursday evening, February 6, at Parks and Recreation Center.

Over 200 residents, including local cancer survivors, attended the festivities that included dinner, live entertainment, keynote speakers and information about upcoming events.

“This is a very important program we have, and we totally appreciate all of (the community’s) help and all of your dedication,” said Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci, Director of Parks and Recreation.  “We started in 2006 and raised a little over $30,000 that year.  Our goal every year is now $90,000 to $100,000, and we usually hit that goal.”

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Relay is the ongoing community initiative on behalf of the Department of Parks and Recreation to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer.

“This is our official kickoff, and everyone here tonight plays an integral part in making this very special,” said event chairperson Heather Soto.  “I am here tonight in a dual role, as a caregiver and as the event lead for Nutley Relay.  It has been 10 years since I lost my dad to cancer, and this past decade has brought me through so many levels of myself as many of my friends and family have been affected in this decade.”

Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for American Cancer Society and it takes place Friday, May 15, from 6 pm to 11:30 pm at DeMuro Park on Margaret Avenue.

The 2020 theme is dubbed ‘No Place Like Hope.’

The inspiration of the ‘No Place Like Hope’ motto incorporates Team Annie’s Courage, captained by Anne Rotonda, who reached the prestigious Emerald level in 2019.

An award was presented to Rotonda’s team, accepted on Anne's behalf by her brother Jim.

Annie’s Courage is the first-ever Emerald team in Nutley Relay history, with over $25,000 raised during the 2018-19 season.  Annie’s Courage has already raised $8,779 for the 2019-20 fundraising campaign.

“Nutley is absolutely a place where there is a lot of hope,” Tucci added.  “2020 for Relay For Life and the Township of Nutley is going to be a year or vision, clarity and continued progress.  We expect this year to be our best Relay year ever.”

Relay is a team fundraising event where members take turns walking around the DeMuro track throughout the evening.  It’s a fun night for all ages as each team sets up a themed campsite and continue fundraising efforts by collecting donations from food, goods, games and activities.

“There is no better cause and no better effort to put forth than to assist American Cancer Society in their endeavor to find a cure for cancer and help those who have lost loved ones,” Tucci explained.  “Unfortunately, each and every one of us have been touched by this dreadful disease as there is someone we all know, whether it’s a family member, loved one, friend, neighbor or casual acquaintance that’s been afflicted.”

The signature Nutley event in May 2019 saw 400 participants, including 30 cancer survivors and 40 teams, raise nearly $90,000.

Tucci provided an early update on the 2019-20 fundraising season, proclaiming, “as of today, we raised an additional $17,642, for a grand total of $1,346,695.94, and we are just warming up.”

Chrissy Scala was the Kickoff survivor speaker in an event that included local and regional American Cancer Society representatives in attendance.

The Kickoff dinner was donated by Ralph’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, Nutley ShopRite supplied the dessert, and emcee Robert Frannicola of Ultimate Entertainment provided music.

There are numerous pre-event team fundraising functions in the months leading up to the signature Relay event in May.

In November, a Pasta Bingo Night fundraiser was held and raised $2,676.00.  Dinner was provided by Ralph’s and dessert was donated by Farmers Insurance.

A family-friendly IWF Wrestling Event with WWE Hall of Famers and WrestleMania Legends is slated for Saturday, April 18, 7:30 pm at Parks and Rec Center.

Zumba-thon is Sunday, April 19, 2 pm at Parks and Rec Center, while the second annual Chalk Art Festival takes place Saturday, April 25, 2 pm at Memorial Park 1.

Nutley Relay hosts a special Prayer Service at St. Mary’s Church for those affected by cancer on Wednesday evening, April 29.

For the third consecutive year, TAPinto Nutley is proud to be a supporter of Relay For Life. 

Relay For Life began nationally in 1985 and is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries.  For information or to participate, visit RelayForLife.org/NutleyNJ.

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