This weekend Wilton will do its part to help the American Cancer Society with its annual Relay for Life fundraising walk. This year’s event will be held Saturday, May 14, from 3-11 p.m. at the Wilton High School Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
Each year at the Relay For Life event, Wilton (like so many other communities across the globe) comes together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that takes too much. The funds raised benefit the American Cancer Society in their effort to help cancer patients and survivors through support and research. Teams are formed by friends, family members, middle school and high school teens and others who raise money in different ways before the walk. As of May 10, there are 39 teams with 270 participants registered for the Wilton event, and $32,881.41 has been pledged.
During Relay for Life, which can be up to 24-hours long, teams typically camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park, or fairground. In a symbolic gesture, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times, to symbolize how cancer never sleeps.
In a departure from previous years, however, Wilton’s 2016 event will not be an all-night one; instead it will end at 11 p.m..
This year more high school students have gotten involved on the Relay for Life organizing committee, according to Lindsey Hanley, the Relay for Life community manager with the American Cancer Society. “They are all amazing and have been so dedicated with helping out and planning the event,” she says.
Another element that has energized this year’s Relay for Life is that a new American Cancer Society Club has been started at Wilton High School, led by WHS student Addie Tanzman. The club has put together a team for the relay and has also produced a video running on youTube, showing why they all participate. Some say they relay “for hope,” some say they relay “for a cure,” while others mention specific family members or friends for whom they rally and support. [See the video, at the end of the article.]
Like every year, there will be an honorary chairperson of the Relay for Life. This year, the committee has chosen Dr. John Priest, a Middlebrook School 6th grade social studies teacher and Wilton resident. Priest was diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of the 2014-15 school year and has been successful in his fight against it this year.
3 p.m. Opening Ceremony: The Opening Ceremony brings everyone together for a high-energy event kickoff that celebrates the lives of those who have battled cancer and reminds participants that while the battle is being won, fighting cancer is a year-round priority.
3:15 p.m. Survivors Lap: Cancer survivors take the first lap around the track. Cheered on by the other participants and the sound of upbeat music, the Survivors Lap lets all cancer survivors at the event celebrate their victory over cancer.
3:20 p.m. Caregivers Lap: During the Caregivers Lap, anyone who has ever cared for someone with cancer walks a special lap so they can be honored. Caregivers can walk this lap with the person they helped if they are also present.
9 p.m. Luminary Ceremony: At the candlelight Luminary Ceremony loved ones lost to cancer are remembered; support is offered to people who currently have cancer; and those who fought cancer in the past are honored. It’s a powerful part of the event and provides an opportunity for people to work through grief and find hope.
10:30 p.m. Closing Ceremony: The Closing Ceremony celebrates what everyone together has accomplished at the event. It’s also a time to remember the lives of those lost, and to commit to continuing the fight against cancer over the next year.