SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers’ “Purple Power” was on full display last Friday at Somers Middle School, as hundreds of volunteers from about 20 teams raised a collective $41,662.99 for cancer research.

The top three individual fundraisers are: Daniel Turner ($11,370), Jackie Graziano ($1,805) and Clara Anderson ($1,689). The top three fundraising teams are: Daniel Strong ($14,700), Warriors ($9,267) and Spartans LBA ($2,504).

The fundraising isn’t over. Visit relayforlife.org/somersNY to contribute.

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The top fundraiser, Turner, a 13-year-old middle school student, was diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago. He told his story of survival in the form of a letter, which his father read aloud at Relay for Life.

All photos were taken by Tabitha Pearson Marshall.

Together

By Dan Turner

No one wants to get cancer. It’s a tough thing to deal with, especially alone.

On Sept. 1, 2013, I was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a shock to me, a shock to my family, a shock to my community. I was in England on vacation at the time when I got sick, so I had to have treatment there for six weeks before I could fly home. It was scary. The place was unknown to me, and I had to take all sorts of medicines that began to take a toll on me.

There would be times when I wished I could just go home. To see my friends, my cats, to just sleep in my own bed for a night. But I was stuck there until it was safe for me to fly home.

My mom shared that I was diagnosed with cancer on Facebook, so everyone knew why I wasn’t going to be home for a while, and know how I was doing. Shortly after, I began getting letters, messages, gifts, and food from people in Somers, the town I live in (They sent food because I was taking a drug that made me extremely hungry. I would eat pretty much everything in sight.), but most importantly, they sent hope, happiness, care and love. They would wish for me to get better quickly in their letters, send me gifts to cheer me up. I got letters from school. I got letters from my baseball team. I got letters from my church. I even got letters from people I didn’t know, but had heard my story. Even though I was thousands of miles away from Somers, they all seemed to be backing me up.

They kept me going. I could’ve been sad, mad, wondering why this had to happen to me. But I didn’t. I stayed happy, positive, because everyone was there to cheer me up (even though they weren’t actually there). It happened to me for a reason. God knew I was strong enough, and knew that I was definitely strong enough with the power of my community to help me through.

People would pray that I would stay positive and happy, and that I would get to go back home soon.

After the six weeks, I got to fly back home, where I would continue my treatment. I missed everyone so much, especially my friends. Everyone missed me, too. When I finally got home, I had posters on my doorstep, from my neighbors, and my friends. Every night a different family would bring my family dinner.

I was elated to be home, to see my cats, to sleep in my bed. But most importantly, my friends, and the whole community of Somers. I wasn’t alone. During the whole journey, they were there for me.

Now, four years later, and six months done with treatment, I can easily say that I believe people in my community will always be there to help me.