Giving Back

Yorktown Relay for Life Seeks Help to Organize 2018 Comedy Festival

Credits: File Photo/Tabitha Pearson Marshall

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Despite a successful $151,000 fundraising campaign in 2017, Kristina Iennaco, lead chair of Yorktown Relay for Life, is switching gears in hopes of shining an even brighter spotlight on cancer and the effects it has on friends and families.

Instead of continuing the frequent, small fundraisers that Relay for Life has been doing, Iennaco is setting her sights on something bigger: a one-night comedy festival potentially featuring some noteworthy acts.

First, Iennaco said, she hopes to collect at least 1,000 stories submitted by local residents about someone they know who has been affected by cancer.

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These stories must be handwritten on the back of a picture of that person, which must be printed in a 4-by-6-inch format but no larger than 8.5-by-11 inches. There is no minimum requirement of words, and there is no limit as to how many pictures and stories a person can submit.

The goal, Iennaco said, is to share who these people are, how their battle against cancer affected others, and why their stories are important. Stories do not have to be about a person who lives in Yorktown, Iennaco said. They must be submitted by Sept. 25, to P.O. Box 598, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

Once Iennaco has the stories, she plans to send them to a well-known comedy group she hopes will headline the festival. Iennaco said she hopes the stories will tug at the heartstrings of the comedians and that they will say yes to her invitation.

“The hope is that when they open this box with all these stories, they will feel impacted in some way,” Iennaco said.

Of course, given the stature of the performers, Iennaco has given herself a “15 percent” chance of succeeding. Those low odds won’t stop her from trying, though.

“I’m a dreamer,” she said. “I like to dream big.”

Dreaming big is the calling card of Yorktown Relay for Life, which was honored last year as the top fundraising town in the tri-state area. The organization has raised more than $2.4 million since launching a dozen years ago.

Even without the big-name headliner, Iennaco said, the plan is still to have a comedy festival in fall 2018 to benefit Relay for Life. She said the constant, smaller events wore out her staff this year and putting all their efforts into one big event seems like a better use of their time, she said.

Iennaco said the stories can be used in many other ways, such as promotional material. She also plans to create a YouTube channel, where people affected by cancer will be able to tell their stories in 2-minute videos.

Local pickup of these stories can also be arranged by emailing Iennaco at Also contact her if interested in filming a video for the YouTube channel.

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