2002-04-27 / Community

BCHS To Host Relay For Life

BCHS To Host Relay For Life

Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Park will hold the Relay For Life on June 8 and June 9. Last year over 600 people attended the Relay For Life in Rockaway and $70,000 was raised, tripling their goal of $20,000.

Imagine a place where hundreds of people gather for an all night party, the music is loud, children and adults are laughing and playing games when all of a sudden the tone changes as candles light up spelling the word "hope" and people remember those that are no longer with us. Rockaway resident Jo Ann Shapiro knows this place and is bringing it to Queens.

"It is not often that you hear the words ‘cancer’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence," said Shapiro, "but Relay For Life strives to bring the two together." It’s a unique volunteer-driven community event that allows people to join together in the fight against cancer.

Relay For Life is an overnight celebration where individuals and teams camp out, barbeque, dance, and take turns walking or running around a track "relay" style. At nightfall, participants will light hundreds of luminary candles around the track in a moving ceremony to honor cancer survivors as well as friends and family members lost to the disease.

Besides raising much-needed funds for cancer research, programs and services, Relay For Life raises awareness about the disease and brings the community together. Shapiro summed it up best: "Almost everyone in Rockaway has been affected by this disease. But this is not a disease anyone has to go through alone. Hundreds of people standing together in celebration of life is incredibly uplifting- this is why I volunteer for Relay For Life."

Shapiro has been active in the American Cancer Society for over a year, speaking at schools, community meetings and events, and asking others to join her fight against cancer. She has recruited hundreds of people who need to feel as if they are helping combat this disease. She tells the story of a little boy at a Relay For Life meeting, who handed her a $10 bill. He lost his father to cancer and admitted to Shapiro that he didn’t think people were doing anything to get rid of cancer. He now attends Relay For Life because "he couldn’t just let his father die and do nothing about it." For those who participate in Relay For Life, the event represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that the disease will be one day eliminated. Since the first Relay for Life was held in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington, the event has raised over $732 million.

Volunteers are one of the nation’s most valuable resources. During National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, 2002, millions of dedicated men and women in Queens and communities across the nation will be saluted for their efforts and their commitment to serve organizations such as the American Cancer Society. ACS has made a pledge to eliminate cancer.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. For information about cancer, call toll-free anytime 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org.

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