Report by Paula Antolini
June 10, 2017 5:36PM EDT
Photo: First Survivors Lap at the Relay For Life in Bethel, June 10, 2017.
VIDEO/PHOTOS: Spirits Are High at the American Cancer Society Greater Danbury Relay For Life in Bethel, June 10th
(Scroll down to bottom of page to view videos and photos.)
PART 1 / June 10, 2017 / Morning
The weather was warm and the spirits high at the Opening Ceremony of the Greater Danbury Relay For Life (RFL) event that took place at 11:00 am this morning at the Bethel High School (BHS) Track.
Alyssa Amaturo and Paul Foster organized the event this year along with numerous Relay For Life volunteers and fundraising teams who come back year after year to help, along with new volunteers too. It’s their creative brainpower that brings to life all the fun events throughout the Relay For Life celebration, along with the amazing Survivors Luncheon and unique entertainment.
This year’s event began with the Bethel High School NJROTC Color Guard then Anna Habeck sang the National Anthem.
Cancer survivor Carol Ann Viebrock received an award from the American Cancer Society for being a dedicated volunteer who not only raised funds for cancer research including organizing a “Beat the Beast 5K Run” locally that raised $1700, but she also volunteered to participate in cancer studies to help the cause.
Survivors were asked to stand in front of the stage, one line at a time, facing the stage, starting with those newly diagnosed one year or less, then 5 years, and progressively higher, until reaching the longest survivor at the event, which is 38 years. Then the first row of survivors was asked to turn around and face the 2nd row of survivors, whom they could lean on for support because they had been battling cancer that much longer, and so on, until the last row faced the audience, the community, whom they could lean on for support.
The ceremony continued onto the track where the survivors made the first lap around the track, the Survivors Lap, with the front row carrying a Relay For Life banner. The next lap was for Caregivers, then everyone joined in from the Relay Teams and the community.
The Relay For Life Survivors Luncheon followed, whose theme this year is “United We Stand Against Cancer.” The luncheon was organized by RFL Committee Co-Chairs Teresa Fogel and Kathryn Kosek. The luncheon was held in the Bethel High School (BHS) cafeteria with lunch provided by Olive Garden.
This year the Survivor Luncheon entertainment was by the Bethel High School (BHS) Tri-M Music Honor Society students and other BHS music students. The Project Manager was BHS Junior and BHS Tri-M Music Honor Society member Gia Antolini, who organized the program as a Community Service project for Relay For Life.
The BHS Choir Chamber Singers performed, “My Cherie Amore” by Stevie Wonder, sung by Amber Martin, and “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, was sung by Alyssa Schneider.
The BHS Orchestra Chamber Strings performed “Tico Tico” by Zequinha De Abreu and “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla.
The Jazz Band performed “I Asked” by BHS alumni Ben Fitzpatrick, and “When I Fall In Love” by Victor Young, and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” by Cole and Mills, were sung by Victor Roldan.
The Tri-M musicians also played musical games with the audience, “Name That Song” and “Finish That Line.”
The music finale included a performance of “United We Stand” by members of the BHS Choir, Alyssa Schneider and Amber Martin, with a touching visual of “HOPE” and “CURE” signs held up by Tri-M members.
Relay For Life presented Survivors with numerous gifts and gift cards, even a membership to a local gym, all donated by local businesses and caring citizens.
Many more activities are taking place this afternoon and evening (click here for full schedule) leading up to the Luminaria Ceremony that takes place at dusk (approximately 9:00 p.m.). You can purchase Luminaria Bags on the field until 8:30 p.m..
Many teams are still hoping to raise more funds tonight. Take a ride to the event and help them out and also have some fun with all numerous activities still taking place! A concession stand is open, plan to have dinner on the field!
Survivors received a complimentary dinner at 6:00 p.m. from Rizzuto’s in the Survivors Tent on the field.
UPDATE / PART 2 / June 10, 2017 / Afternoon and Evening
The VIP Tent kept the Survivors and Caregivers comfortable in the shade as afternoon temperatures climbed.
Bethel’s Rizzuto’s provided dinner and there was also a Survivors Ice Cream Social.
Many other activities were going on in the field such as the Crazy Hat Lap, Dance Lap, Backwards Walk Lap and a Blow Bubbles Lap. There was also a Royal Tea Party, Scavenger Hunt, Human Hula Hoop, Irish Step Dancers, Water Balloon Activity, Dance Party, Dance Team, Banner Contest, and Mike the Music Artist.
The Luminaria Ceremony took place at dusk. Earlier speakers on stage, Linda Slater, the Luminary Chair, and Alyssa Amaturo, American Cancer Society Relay For Life Community Manager New England Division, paid tribute to those who are still fighting the disease and those who lost their battle.
Linda Slater said, “This is an opportunity to remember the journey our survivors have taken and a time for us to grieve for those we’ve lost. It’s a time for us to reflect on how the disease has touched each of us personally. And it’s a time for us to look inside ourselves with quiet reflection and find hope. Because no matter what our experience with cancer has been, we all share the hope that we will one day live in a world where our children, and their children, will never have to hear the words “you have cancer.”
“Our track is illuminated by Luminaria. Each one represents a treasured relationship. They represent people, and each has a name and a story to tell. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, and loved ones. As they glow throughout the night, they represent our shared vision for a cancer-free future and we love the people the Luminaria represent,” Slater said.
Slater continued, “In both celebrating the lives of those we love and remembering those we’ve lost, we are motivated to do something – anything – to make sure no one else we care about, or no one else we know, has to face this disease. We are here, together, surrounded by the light of our loved ones, to fight back. Motivational speaker, Andy Andrews, loves to say, “Every single thing you do matters. You have the power to change the world.” Some of you may see this ceremony as one night… one more memory in a collection of special moments. But remember, “Every single thing you do matters. You have the power to change the world.” Your presence here tonight, in support of the American Cancer Society, is changing the world. Your presence here tonight represents the creation of hope for millions.”
Alyssa Amaturo said, “As we read this next poem, we ask that you hold your loved ones close, remember them fondly, and lock arms with those around you to pull strength from each other and the knowledge that we stand together tonight.”
Poetry was read right before the Silent Lap began, as Luminaria Bags were “lit” (glow sticks) and and track lights turned off.
Amaturo read a poem entitled, “Every Candle Has a Name,” by Jack Storey and Tom Willner:
We’re like sailors in the night
Being guided by a light
Just a beacon on the shore
Giving hope and strength and more
Walking through this sea of lights
I sense unity and might
Oh the power of passion in this place
Every memory has a face
There’s a name of the ones who still are here
There’s a name of those gone we still hold dear
There’s a name each one shining in the flames
and we know that Every Candle Has a Name
These are loved ones we have known
Some still here but some are gone
In this time in our own way
As the footsteps melt away
We see love in every flame
Like a never ending chain
and we know that Every Candle Has A Name
Survivors, Caregivers and other Participants carried “candles” (glow sticks) around the track in memory of loved ones. “Hallelujah” music played during the second lap. People gathered in front of the stage once more, at the end of the laps, as the lights they were holding glowed.
The Crazy Dress Up Lap and Conga Lap were held after 10:00 p.m. and the Closing Ceremony at 11:00p.m.
This year’s Relay For Life of Greater Danbury raised $75,624.22! Congratulations to all who participated!
At Relay For Life no donation is too small, each and every dollar counts. Your donations help fund groundbreaking cancer research, patient care programs, and can make a difference in communities like ours. With every donation, you are helping the American Cancer Society save lives. (Remember you can still donate all year round.)
Top 12 Teams Are:
Pink Ladies / 17 members / $10,562
Scooby Strong / Carol Eagan / 4 members / $7,005
Captain’s Cure-ageous / Laura McCormick / 2 members / $5,682
Survivors R Us / Maryclaire Quine / 1 member / $4,959
Couch Potatoes / Dana Pinckney / 14 members / $4,586
Johnson Cares / Kathleen Quader / 13 members /$4,460
The Atkins Army / Maggie Atkins / 9members / $3,311
Praxair / Melissa Andros / 5members / $3,240
Walnut Hill Community Church / Brian Henderson / 14 members / $1,841
Bethel High School Tri-M / Gia Antolini / 8 members / $1,822
Girl Power / Vicky Gracy /14 members / $1,673
Bethel United Methodist Church / Pat Deuschle / 4members / $1,419
Top 12 Individual Participants Are:
Carol Eagan / Team: Scooby Strong / $6,025
Laura McCormick / Team: Captain’s Cure-ageous / $5.122
Melissa Andros / Team: Praxair / $3,180
Kathleen Quader / Team: Johnson Cares / 3,001
Carol Ann Viebrock / Team: Pink Ladies / $1,845
Maryclaire Quine / Team: Survivors R Us / $1,750
Mary Beth Cooke / Team: Pink Ladies / $1,375
Hermansen Kids / Team: Pink Ladies / $1,355
Allison St. Germain /Team: The Atkins Army / $1,001
Nancy Scofield / Team: Pink Ladies / $826
Pat Deuschle / Team: Bethel United Methodist Church /$787
Top Companies Are:
Bank of America / 1 team / 1 participant / $403
VIEW MORE PHOTOS BELOW:
Click on each photo to view larger.
Photo above: First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker posed with Pink Ladies team.
SURVIVORS CEREMONY & AWARD PRESENTATION:
VIEW VIDEOS OF THE RELAY FOR LIFE 2017 EVENT BELOW.
Allow time for all videos to load (when photo appears videos are ready to view, should take a few minutes) or you can view by clicking link below title.
VIDEO: SURVIVORS CEREMONY …
VIDEO: SURVIVORS LUNCHEON MUSIC & GAMES 1 …
VIDEO: SURVIVORS LUNCHEON MUSIC & GAMES 2 …
VIDEO: SURVIVORS LUNCHEON MUSIC & GAMES 3 …
VIDEO: SURVIVORS LUNCHEON ANNOUNCEMENTS & PRAYER …
VIDEO: SURVIVORS LUNCHEON ALYSSA SCHNEIDER (TRI-M) SPEECH …
VIDEO: SURVIVORS LUNCHEON ALYSSA SCHNEIDER (CHOIR) SINGS “HERE COMES THE SUN” …
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON AMBER MARTIN (CHOIR) SINGS MY CHERIE AMORE …
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON ORCHESTRA CHAMBER STRINGS 1 …
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON ORCHESTRA CHAMBER STRINGS 2 …
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON JAZZ BAND 1 …
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON JAZZ BAND 2 …
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON THANK YOU BY GIA ANTOLINI TO TERESA FOGEL & KATHRYN KOSEK …
Click here to view or view video below.
VIDEO: SURVIVOR LUNCHEON “UNITED WE STAND” SUNG BY AMBER MARTIN (CHOIR) & ALYSSA SCHNEIDER (CHOIR) …
VIDEO: LUMINARIA CEREMONY 1 (ALYSSA AMATURO READING POEM BEFORE SILENT LAP)…
VIDEO: LUMINARIA CEREMONY 2 (SILENT LAP)…
VIDEO: LUMINARIA CEREMONY 3 (SILENT LAP) …
VIDEO: LUMINARIA CEREMONY 4 (LAP WITH MUSIC, actual music played at event) …
VIDEO: LUMINARIA CEREMONY 5 (LAP WITH MUSIC, actual music played at event) …