ALEXANDRIA TWP. - Delaware Valley High School's Relay for Life raised $30,003 for the American Cancer Society while providing fun and fellowship sandwiched between sobering reflection.
The relay took place on Saturday on the rubberized track along the perimeter of Tap Web Memorial Field. It was sponsored by the National Honor Society.
The relay's first half was drizzly and chilly, the gray weather relieved by the green grass and colorful clothing and decorations suggested by the event's Hawaiian theme.
North Hunterdon Regional High School also held its Relay for Life on Friday evening, raising at least $75,000.
There will be another Relay for Life in June, being held from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. from June 16-17 at the Hunterdon County Fairgrounds at the South County Park off Route 179 in Ringoes section of East Amwell Township. Over $28,000 had been raised as of Thursday. For additional information on this relay, contact Kris Dumschat at email@example.com or 973-285-8015.
In opening ceremonies at Delaware Valley, the relay participants were welcomed by coordinators Jim Gessner and Caryn Bowe, student leaders Jessica King and Savanna Granger and American Cancer Society staffer Kris Dumschat, who produced a selfie stick and attempted a group photo.
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The keynote speaker was Del Val Media Specialist Tracy Miceli, who told of her own struggle during the 2009-10 school year with what her doctor described as "Hodgkin's lymphoma, stage 2A, unfavorable."
Surgery and months of chemotherapy and radiation put her cancer into remission. The experience taught her "not to take a single day on this earth for granted, being thankful for the experiences that I have had, both positive and negative, because each experience has taught me something; and not to judge others too harshly because they may be enduring their own personal battle."
Four years later, she gave birth to her daughter, Clara, whose birthstone is amethyst. So ever since, the color purple has signified for Miceli the triumph of life over cancer.
Then she and other cancer survivors took a victory lap, cheered on by students. The bad weather had cut down attendance, so members of the sparse crowd did double or even triple duty, applauding the survivors in one spot, then dashing across the football field to applaud them again. After that, survivors were joined by caregivers. Then everyone took a turn around the track before the hours of walking were begun by representatives of each team.
"Seeing our students coming out in the rain in support of a good cause, warmed my heart," said Principal Adrienne Olcott. "It was also a day filled with camaraderie, school spirit and wholesome fun, and that says something good about our students, too."
The day also featured piggyback races, bubble soccer, volleyball, badminton, performances by the Del Val jazz band and a Kingwood band named Volcanic Eruptions, a survivors' dinner, an unscheduled water-balloon fight, limbo contest, and a lap around the track led by the 7-foot-tall Chick-fil-A Holstein like the Pied Piper handing out breakfast-sandwich cards. The activities became increasingly pleasant as the temperature rose and the sun shone.
The afternoon was further brightened by a Hawaiian-style "Mr. Relay" pageant. It was conducted by Sarah Bobrowski and Ellis Stanton, and won by Pierce Werrmann and Sean Hanczaryk. Yes, there were coconut-shell brassieres.
In the closing hours, luminaria - glow sticks in paper bags - were distributed around the track, each one in memory or in honor of a loved one who had been afflicted with cancer. Unsponsored luminaria were set up in the bleachers to spell out HOPE.
Amid concluding remarks, Jessica and Savanna announced that $30,003 had been raised. The next day, Gessner said that the goal had been $54,321, and donations are being accepted through Aug. 30. Donations can be made online.
A new ledger is opened for the 2018 Relay for Life on Sept. 1.
"If we can do a better job in getting the word out, it would not be unrealistic to attempt to raise $100,000," something that has been accomplished by schools of similar size, Gessner said.
Among the many companies that helped with Relay for Life are: ShopRite of Flemington, Mezza Luna, Cafe Maria, Riegel Federal Credit Union, Stem Brothers, Global Healthcare Management, Koches Repairs, Artie's Bar & Grill, Lauck Chiropractic, H.J. Opdyke Lumber Co., The Hair Place, AM Landscaping, The Frenchtown Inn, Chick-fil-A of Flemington, Flemington Ice Arena, Maria Rosa's, The Little York and Galasso's....Read more