Posted by CT Buzz News
NEW FAIRFIELD, CT—For the first time ever in its thirteen-year history, the New Fairfield Relay for Life will be held online due to social distancing guidelines set by the State of Connecticut in response to the coronavirus. Teams from New Fairfield, New Milford, Sherman, Danbury, Bethel, and surrounding towns will participate in the annual fundraiser to help find a cure for cancer.
The organizers of this year’s New Fairfield Relay For Life of New Fairfield are hoping that this year will be their “Lucky 13″ and that they will raise more money than ever to help cancer patients. Co-Chair Amber St. Hilaire has been participating in the New Fairfield Relay for Life for 10 years with her team “The Heavenly Hippies” which was born out of the New Fairfield Congregational Church.
“Normally, we walk for 15 hours at the New Fairfield High School Track from 3 p.m. on Saturday until 5 a.m. on Sunday morning,” St. Hilaire said, continuing, “Unfortunately, Covid-19 has changed a lot of things for us but we are determined to do our best to fight despite it!”
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life event is held in over 20 countries worldwide. The event gives people a chance to fight back against cancer and honor those who are fighting or have lost their lives to the disease through a moving silent Luminaria ceremony.
This year’s event is entirely virtual and their theme is “Small Town, Big Heart” which she said represents her community and their fight. St. Hilaire said participants will be relaying (walking) from home from 1:00 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 6th, and then they will “light the night” at 9 p.m. with a Luminaria/porch light-up event in honor of their loved ones who are fighting or who have passed away. Details can be found on their Facebook page: Relay for Life New Fairfield, Twitter @relayforlifenf, and Instagram @relay4lifenf . They are also on Youtube as “ACS Lower Hudson Valley.”
The opening ceremony begins with a video of guest speaker Wendy Mitchell, a survivor of a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer called Triple Negative Metaplastic Carcinoma, who shares her survivor story. Mitchell began an advocacy campaign for breast cancer awareness from day one of her diagnosis in 2015 under the hashtag #MyLeftBoob for early detection. Her blog, Wendipoprock’s Wild Ride, serves as a guide to help newly diagnosed cancer patients. Her story/video can be viewed here.
The Knights of Columbus 12968 will be leading their virtual survivor lap to kick off the opening ceremony. There will be online games, a telethon, a music jam hour, stories of hope, opportunities to donate and win prizes, a touching luminaria ceremony, a senior spotlight, Zumba with Tim, and a touching closing ceremony.
“We tried to be as close to our true Relay event as we could by encouraging walking, socially distanced, of course, scavenger hunts, Zumba, and more,” St. Hilaire said.
While she admits this year is a challenge by being completely online, St. Hilaire said “nothing can stop Relay For Life because our volunteers’ hearts are just too darn big and stubborn! “
She shared her motivation for why she relays on her fundraising website:
“Every year I walk for two specific people; a survivor and one who has passed. This year those two are my dearest cousin Michelle Gonzalez who is suffering for the second time in a year with cancer and for Sarah, a young woman who passed away last year from brain cancer. These women are prime examples of the reasons I am so passionate about fundraising. This year, for every donation I receive, I will walk one lap in honor of a loved one. Your donations matter and I want each and every person to be remembered and brought up at the event.”
For more information about New Fairfield Relay for Life 2020, or to donate, click the link below:
Photo credit: New Fairfield Relay for Life