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Many participants dressed as their favorite superhero to symbolize the strength of the power to win the fight to find a cure for cancer, and also the determination to help and be a caregiver for those afflicted with the disease. It also symbolizes how hard Relay For Life (RFL) works to raise funds to help cure cancer.
Report, Photography and Video by Paula Antolini
February 1, 2015 11:35AM EDT
See VIDEO of event here:
The theme of the American Cancer Society (ACS) 2015 Relay For Life (RFL) Kickoff party was “Superheroes.” The event took place on January 31, 2015, 12 noon, at Rizzuto’s Wood-Fired Pizza Kitchen in Bethel, CT.
Many participants dressed as their favorite superhero to symbolize the strength of the power to win the fight to find a cure for cancer, and also the determination to help and be a caregiver for those afflicted with the disease. It also symbolizes how hard Relay For Life (RFL) works to raise funds to help cure cancer. There was mighty strength in the room this Saturday afternoon!
The co-chairs for this event were Laura McCormick, Carol Ann Viebrock and Cheryl Hallock, who introduced themselves and welcomed the crowd. Alyssa Amaturo was introduced by Hallock as the new RFL partner from ACS.
Hallock said, You guys are all superheroes, hence our theme.” She added, “We’d like to recognize all of the teams and individuals who reached for the stars and raised incredible amounts of donations for the American Cancer Society.
Hallock indicated how successful the 2014 RFL was and named the top three teams and funds raised: The Pink Ladies $10,923; Captain’s Cure-ageous $10,915; and BI Bees Buzzing for a Cure $8,053.
Carol Ann Viebrock indicated the top fundraising individuals who were: Doris Peterson $7,020; Laura McCormick $4,078 and Allison Hughes-Randall $3,644.
Laura McCormick said that in the 2014 results we had a Net Income of $110,796.58, there were 42 teams with 376 participants registered on them, and we celebrated 65 survivors.
Viebrock said, “Now I want to introduce someone who is going to speak a little bit about her experience with Relay, and it’s our Allie Hermansen, daughter of our dear friend Debbie [Hermansen]. Her Mom started the Pink Ladies in 2007. She will say a few words about her experience with cancer.”
Allie Hermansen, eighth grade student at Bethel Middle School, stood up in front of the crowd and said, “My family has been involved with Relay for ten years. My family and I are proud to be part of the Pink Ladies once again. We participate in Relay to carry on the tradition of our mother Debbie Hermansen, who was one of the founding members of the Pink Ladies, and was an Honoree Chair for Relay back in 2007. She was a cancer survivor for over twenty years, having fought Hodgkin’s as a child, and later fought breast cancer for 7 years before passing away in 2011. The rest of my family cannot be here today due to other activities but I am thrilled to be here and celebrate Relay for Life.”
McCormick said, “Thank you Allie. That took a lot of guts and I’m sure your Mom is so proud of you for continuing on in the fight. Thank you for being here.”
“As we know, Relay For life is not a one day party, it’s not just about celebrating survivors, it’s the world’s largest fundraising movement. The world’s largest. And every penny that we raise is so vital to go towards the mission of the American Cancer Society to eliminate cancer as a threat and to help cancer patients and their family through the journey. So what we want to make sure that everybody knows if that when you’re going out and asking for donations we want to make sure that you are comfortable with where that money is going. We are very proud of the American Cancer Society, almost 80% of our donor dollars goes right to the mission. So we’re very proud of that,” McCormick said.
A game was then played for participants to guess the answers regarding “What Does Your Dollar Do?” Prizes were awarded for correct answers.
Questions and answers were:
Question: Since 1946 The American Cancer Society has invested more than (fill in blank).
Answer: $14 Million
Question: How many people call our toll free number each year for cancer information and resources?
Answer: 1 Million
Question: What is the toll free American Cancer Society phone number that everyone can call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
Question: How many patients are provided a free place to stay in our Hope Lodges when they have to travel for treatment?
Answer: Over 41,000
McCormick went on to explain, “For patients who can’t get specialized treatment where they live, and have to travel for that, and stay in a hotel where it can be very costly, and a detriment, we have Hope Lodges where they and their caregivers can stay for free in a home-like setting. It’s a very beautiful place where they can also find hope from each other. There are survivors who are going through the same thing and the caregivers themselves. So that’s another way to tell your donors that the dollars are being well spent.”
McCormick then presented a video created by a long time Relay For Life volunteer, Grant Vosburgh. Cancer suvivors Grant and Robin Vosburgh share their journey as colon cancer survivors and how they fight back against cancer through the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
View video here:
Cheryl Hallock went over the details of the ACS 2015 Relay For Life event information and some of needs for leadership, activities, committees, and agenda review. The ACS 2015 Relay For Life will be held on Friday, June 12 to Saturday, June 13, 2015, 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Bethel High School Track, 300 Whittlesey Dr, Bethel, CT, representing Bethel, Danbury and Redding, CT.
Carol Ann Vribrock talked about the Saturday Morning activity planned for this year’s Relay. She said, “This year for the first time, in the morning we are going to do a 5K and it is going to e called Beat the Beast and we’re going to use the cross-country course for Bethel High School.” She said there will be that activity plus a Fun Run for Kids on the track. The Knights of Columbus will be there and if you run in the race you will get a pancake breakfast for free, Vribrock said.
Alyssa Amaturo introduced the ACS CAN Cafe which will be new to the event this year. She said, “It’s going to be a really fun interactive space that we have, where people can get their voice out for what they want to see legislation doing or cancer research and things like that. We’ll have a photo booth so it will be really fun. ACS CAN is a cancer action network, so it’s a cancer advocacy organization that we run through the American Cancer Society, and it puts advocates right in Washington D.C. and Hartford trying to get cancer research more funding, supporting legislators.” It costs $10 to join and you get many emails from front lines of what legislators are doing, and how you can help, as far as signing petitions, for example. You also receive much information on how legislators are voting, giving you much added knowledge when it comes to your decision on how to vote. The legislators are “really putting on a cancer-as-a-priority legislation,” Amaturo said.
McCormick added, “For some of us that’s our thing, we like to be advocates and be in that political stage and make a difference in that way. So for those of you, if that’s your comfort zone and something you like to do, it gives yet another way to fight back, which is really important for cancer patients and their families.”
Everyone received a Relay Buck upon attending the kickoff and more Relay Bucks will be handed out to people who participate in future fundraisers, redeemable at the Relay store at the 2015 Relay For Life event, McCormick said. “So the more things you participate in, from now until the event, the more Bucks you are going to make.”
McCormick then described the beautiful, inspiring Cancer Slam poem by Kiante Miles, a high school student who posted a video on youtube.
View video here:
Cheryl Hallock discussed the 2015 RFL goals, to hopefully reach a Net Income of $122,000 (as compared to 2014 Net Income of $110, 796.58) and have 52 teams with 400 participants (as compared to 2014 42 teams and 376 participants) to celebrate 70 survivors (compared to 2014 65 survivors).
RFL Kickoff participants feasted on a buffet of delicious Rizzuto’s wood-fired pizza, salad and dessert, which included the Italian pastry cannoli and cookies. McCormick presented a thank you gift to Rizzuto’s, who generously donated use of their facility and donated all food and drink for the RFL kickoff event and who also offered to donate apples and water at the Relay For Life event. A HUGE thank you to Rizzuto’s!
What Is Relay For Life?
Each year, more than 4 million people in over 20 countries raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer through the Relay For Life movement.
During a Relay event, participants and survivors celebrate what they’ve overcome.
We remember people lost to the disease, and honor people who have fought or are fighting cancer.
The event inspires Relay participants to take action against a disease that has taken too much.
“We won’t stop until we finish the fight against cancer!”