Written by Katherine M. Trager Friday, 17 June 2011 00:00
On the evening of June 4, the Carle Place community celebrated its third annual Relay for Life. A highly anticipated and successful tradition, the Relay for Life has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research while honoring both survivors and victims of cancer.
Local organizers teamed up with the American Cancer Society, which helps communities coordinate these unique events. Unlike an ordinary relay race, the Relay for Life is an overnight event, symbolizing the ACS’s assertion that “cancer never sleeps.”
At 7:30 p.m., over 400 men, women and children of all ages assembled at the Carle Place High School track, eager to meet the challenge.
Event organizer Jenna-Lyn Zaino warmly welcomed the crowd.
“I am blessed to be given the opportunity to share tonight with each and every one of you who have chosen to make a difference,” said Zaino.
“Cancer is a life-threatening disease, and with over 100 different types in existence, millions of people and their families are affected by it every year.
“Although as humans we may not look at it this way, each day of our lives is precious and should be treated like it’s our last,” Zaino continued.
Rachael Martines, a CPHS freshman who helped rally student support, agreed.
“Cancer is a disease that, in some way or another, has touched everyone’s life,” she said, adding, “I have yet to meet one person who hasn’t been affected by cancer.”
“Carle Place is a small town, but today we are making a big difference,” stated Martines to rounds of enthusiastic applause.
The applause grew even louder when cancer survivors came to the forefront to take their ‘victory lap.’ Survivors and their friends marched proudly around the track as the crowd called after them with words of congratulations and encouragement.
After the victory lap, some teams began their own laps while other participants stood in quiet reflection, looking at the luminaria candles carefully placed around the track. Each was inscribed with the name of a person lost to cancer. At nightfall, the candles would be lit in a memorial ceremony.
While the sky was still light, other teams gathered at their tents to chat, eat or sell raffles.
Team captain Kerri Delio of the ‘Pink Ladies’ team shared her thoughts on the relay.
“Tonight we celebrate, remember and fight back for anyone and everyone who has been told ‘You have cancer,’” said Delio.
“Our hope is that by doing our share, we will never hear those words again,” she added.
Delio’s nieces, Gianna Marasco and Erin Delio, offered their views on what the relay means to them and to other children of the community.
“What the Relay for Life means to me is hope,” said Marasco. “Hope that children will not have to be sick, hope that they will find a cure for cancer in my lifetime.”
“We are given the opportunity to help other kids,” added Delio. “It means that we can help to change the world in our small way.”