Annual Relay for Life event celebrates cancer survivors


A high school team participating in last year’s Relay for Life.

Saige Gitlin, Staff Writer

Every year, students start the summer off with a bit of community service by taking part in the annual Relay for Life event.  Relay for Life, which donates all of its proceeds toward the American Cancer society, will take place on Saturday, June 17.

The main purpose of the event is to walk laps around the track in order to raise awareness and show support for those fighting cancer.  Participants will stay up all night and take part in Relay-related activities.

“As a member of a team and the Relay for Life Club, I believe that it is an amazing activity that brings the town together to fight against cancer, which affects so many people. Also, because the event is always on my birthday every year, it is so wonderful to spend the day at Relay with my family and friends,” said sophomore Hannah Roth.

Ever since former Schreiber health teacher Patricia Kosiba began the event in Port Washington sixteen years ago, Relay for Life continues to be an annual tradition in our town.

Last year, Port Washington raised over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society, and each team was able to raise more than $1,000 each.  In order to stay overnight at the event, each team member must raise at least $100, but most people end up exceeding the minimum value.

In addition to raising money for fundraising, the teams work together to set up a themed campsite and participates in a number of games and activities.

“I always look forward to Relay for Life,” said junior Maddy Wiener.  “It is a great way for the community to work together for a larger cause.”

The event kicks off by honoring cancer survivors, those who are currently fighting cancer, and caretakers.  Members of each of these groups walk a lap around the track as the rest of the community cheers them on.  Once they finish their ceremonial lap, the rest of the Relay participants join in.

Throughout the night, there are other ceremonies to honor people who have fought with cancer.  For example, people can personalize small luminaria bags, where they draw or write something to honor a person who has been impacted by cancer.

These bags are lit with candles and placed around the track.  After a short ceremony, everyone walks around the track for a silent luminaria lap.

“The luminaria lap is always a very meaningful lap,” said junior Talia Crowley.  “Everyone always takes it seriously and it reminds us about why it is so important to participate in Relay.”

Performances and other events take place throughout the night, most of which are held on the center stage at the front of the track. For example, Bach to Rock  helps student soloists and groups get involved in the event by having them perform live.

In between musical performances, other games and events take place onstage.  Every year, Wings Plus sponsors a wing eating contest. Another annual favorite is the garbage bag fashion show, which usually takes place late at night.

Relay for Life continues to unite many members of our community each year, and the night itself is full of both excitement and sentimental feelings towards all of those who are directly and indirectly affected by cancer. Many agree that taking part in the event creates many meaningful memories.

“It can be hard to stay up all night, but there are so many great ways to get involved, so you don’t even feel that tired throughout the night,” said junior Sarah Gottesman.