BERKELEY – Cancer doesn’t sleep, and neither did they.
For the eleventh time, the Berkeley-Lacey Relay For Life filled Veterans Park with hope and camaraderie as the overnight event raised money for the American Cancer Society.
“This is a time for hope and healing,” said Roxanne Stephens, event lead.
The relay is the signature fundraiser for the organization, she said. Over the 11 years that this particular relay has been held, the money raised has gone to such things as patient care, treatment plans, and equipment.
“Every penny raised goes to a good cause and is well spent,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon, it was warm out with a steady wind. The first lap, after an opening ceremony, was for survivors. According to the American Cancer Society, a survivor is someone who is told “You have cancer.”
Caregivers also took a lap around the course.
“Caregivers are the unsung heroes,” Stephens said. They are the ones who are keeping doctors’ appointments and holding all the pieces together. But even if you’re not the primary caregiver, there is still a lot to be said for anyone who spends a little time to look out for another person’s wellbeing, even if it’s a coworker calling to check up on them or a child drawing a picture.
The relay course was outlined around the main field of Veterans Park, dotted with signs that gave information or thanked sponsors. Fundraising booths were set up where people held games, raffles and gift auctions. Some cooked barbecue or empanadas. Some sold shirts or scrunchies. All of the booths were fundraisers for the relay.
On the edge of the track there was an empty table to recall those who are no longer with us. The table is small, “symbolizing the frailty of a single patient, sometimes alone in the fight against his or her disease.” The tablecloth is white like a doctor’s coat. The single rose represents the enduring love of families and friends. On the plate, a slice of lemon represents the bitter battle, and the salt sprinkled on the plate is for countless tears that have been shed. The purple ribbon is indicative of those who are supporting work for a cure, and the candle is the light of hope.
Over the course of 11 years, this particular relay was close to hitting the $1 million mark in donations. As of press time, the relay earned just short of $65,000 for its season. The highest earning team was Team Callis, bringing in about $15,000.
For more information, or to donate, visit RelayForLife.org\BerkeleyNJ