SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (SPFHS) hosted the community’s 2017 Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) signature event to raise money to combat cancer and find a cure.

Boasting nearly 300 participants and 35 teams, the SPFHS football field saw tents sprouting up one by one on Friday, May 12, as community members young and old braced for an attempt at an “all-nighter” to signify that cancer never sleeps. Members of the Student Movement Against Cancer (SMAC) spent all day setting up, preparing for the long night ahead and registering high school students during their lunch periods. Excitement built as participants arrived with their teams around 6:00 p.m. to a Disney-themed field and music starting the event off right.

Opening ceremonies kicked off around 7:00 p.m. with the introduction of key SMAC members, including president Sara Banasiak and vice president Daniella Cohen, and the thrilling announcement that the SPF Relay for Life had raised almost $70,000 for the ACS. Two inspirational speakers, Sarah Strong and Maddie Holt, moved the audience to tears before cancer survivors proudly took their rightful victory lap as all other participants gathered around the track to cheer them on. Following the survivors in a second lap was all caretakers and anyone who has been impacted by cancer in some way in their lives.

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Honored during opening ceremonies were the leading fundraising teams and individuals, including Team Deutschland ($16,788) and Kyle Greco ($5,610).

Members of the SPFHS Moonglowers performed around 8:00 p.m. to an enthusiastic audience. A snack stand was open for the night, a DJ got all participants in a spirited mood and volleyball and soccer nets were open for games and tournaments. Many teams designed T-shirts to sport and brought an array of food to eat for their team’s tent as the night went on.

Around 10:00 p.m. marked the emotional luminaria ceremony, which features a slide show of names of those who have lost the fight to cancer as well as some who have survived. This is immediately followed by a silent lap around the track.

The event was supposed to run from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 13. However, due to the rainstorm, the event unfortunately was cut short and people tapered off to go home between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. while the SMAC team hastily cleaned up the field. As tents slowly came down, final hugs were exchanged and last tears wiped away, the 2017 SPF Relay for Life proved to be yet again a highlight that displayed our community’s bond and collective fight toward a cause so close - too close - to so many of us. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.