CUMBERLAND — The Relay for Life of Cumberland Wednesday will hold its kick-off celebration to what event co-chairwoman Amy Moor likes to describe as “an 18-hour carnival.”
Relay for Life is a nationwide effort in which teams of people spend an evening walking around a track to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Wednesday's kick-off celebration, to be held at 6 p.m. at the Diamond Hill Ski Lodge, 4097 Diamond Hill Road, is the official start of Relay for Life 2011, which will culminate with the 3rd Annual Relay for Life of Cumberland event to be held June 10-11 at Tucker Field.
“The kick-off celebration is kind of like a huge pep rally to signal the start of the Relay for Life season,” says Moor, who co-chairs the Cumberland event with her brother, Dan Pratte.
The siblings are members of the Relay for Life of Cumberland team known as Precious Moments.
“There's going to be refreshments and team sign ups and a chance for old friends to get together. It's like a little party,” Moor says of Wednesday's event. “But it is also a way for people to hear about what's happening with this year's Relay for Life of Cumberland.”
The Relay for Life of Cumberland is one of the more active relays in Rhode Island. At last year’s event, about 34 teams raised $88,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The Relay for Life — there are more than 4,800 Relays held throughtout the nation every year — gives people the chance to celebrate survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer), remember loved ones and raise money for the fight against cancer. Teams of eight to 15 members gather with tents and sleeping bags with the goal of keeping one person on a walking track at all times.
Teams seek sponsorship prior to the Relay, all with the goal of eliminating cancer.
Funds raised through Relay For Life support the American Cancer Society's programs of research, education, and local services for patients and their families.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Rhode Island. About four out of every 10 people in the state will develop cancer sometime in the course of their lives, and half of them will die of the disease. At any one time, it is estimated that over 33,000 Rhode Islanders are living with cancer or are cancer survivors.
Cumberland is one of several communities in Rhode Island that holds an annual Relay for Life, including Pawtucket, Burrillville-Glocester, Barrington, Providence, Bristol, Warwick, Johnston, and Coventry and Bryant University. Lincoln will be holding its first Relay for Life this year.
Woonsocket used to host a relay, but that event moved to Smithfield.
Moor says the Relay for Life of Cumberland welcomes everyone.
“We encourage people from Woonsocket, North Smithfield, anywhere really, to come over to ours,” said Moor, adding this year's goal is to sign up more teams and exceed last year's figure of $88,000.
Up until three years ago, Moor had never heard of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, although she was plenty familiar with the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Her mother, Paula Carlin, is a five-year breast cancer survivor, and Moor and her family would take part in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk every year.
“Three years ago we saw an ad for the Relay for Life in Cumberland and decided to check it out, not knowing that this was Cumberland's first annual event,” she said.
Moor fell in love with the event and soon took an active role in organzing it.
“The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease,”' she says. “Relay For Life represents hope -hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten; hope that those who face cancer will be supported; and hope that one day cancer will be eliminated.”
“The opening lap of the Relay for Life is very special - it’s the survivors lap,” she continues. “Following the survivor’s lap, is the caregivers lap. This is the lap for all of us who have supported someone with cancer. At dusk, there is a luminaria ceremony. White bags with a lit candle are placed around the track. Each luminaria is dedicated to a cancer survivor or someone who has lost their fight with cancer. The candles surround the track and light the way as Relay For Life participants walk throughout the night. It’s all about one day, one night, one community, one fight.”
Following Wednesday's kick-off celebration, there will be team captains and committee meetings on Feb. 16, March 9, April 13, May 11 and June 7, all beginning at 6 p.m. in the community room (lower level), 2176 Mendon Road.
The actual relay for Life in Cumberland starts at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 10, and continues until 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, at Tucker Field, across from the Cumberland High School on Mendon Road.
For more information about Relay for Life of Cumberland, contact Moor at firstname.lastname@example.org .