UNION, NJ – Families, friends, schoolmates and cancer survivors joined the 2st Annual Relay for Life of Union Saturday at the Union High School football field.

“The American Cancer Society is truly dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem, by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering through research, education, advocacy and service,” said Natalie Margolin of the American Cancer Society.

This year alone, more than 50,000 New Jersey residents will be diagnosed with cancer.  Over 16,000 will die from the disease. 

Sign Up for E-News

“We come together to celebrate,” said event organizer Mary Ellen Patricco, “remember those we lost to cancer and fight back.”  Patricco said since the Relay of Life was started in Union last year, the organization has raised over $75,000.

“As mayor, it gives me such a great sense of pride to know that Union is so dedicated to eradicating a disease that in some way, shape or form has affected everyone here today,” said Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas.

The walk began with a Survivor Lap, then a Caregiver Lap, and for the next six hours, participants from Union schools walked the track at Union High.  While not walking, volunteers enjoyed music and dancing, games and yoga, zumba and singing. 

Five-year old cancer survivor Patrick Moran came to the event with his dad John.  John said Patrick was diagnosed with kidney cancer two years ago.  He was cared for at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and completed his last treatment in Dec. 2015.  “He’s doing great,” said his dad.

Sixteen-years ago, two-year old Brianna Poco died from cancer.  Her family participated in the Relay for Life to keep her memory alive, said her mother Claudia.  “We will always keep her memory alive.  We came today to help raise money and awareness.”

Event volunteer, Connecticut Farms School second-grade teacher and cancer survivor, Kelly Higgins, said, “I’m a cancer survivor.  Today is a way for me to thank the American Cancer Society for all they do for those with cancer.  I’m also here as a way to give back to people who supported me – neighbors, family, coworkers.  

“We come together at the Relay for Life Union to support cancer patients and fight back against the disease,” said Higgins.  “Together, we are working to find cures.”