Over 50 teams turn out for Relay for Life CNY
ROME — The first annual Relay for Life of Central New York took place at Delta Lake State Park in Rome on Saturday.
Over 50 teams signed up for the inaugural regional event with many dressed to signify their personal relationships with cancer — whether as a survivor, caregiver, or an affected loved one.
The event is a combination of Rome, Utica, Madison County, and Syracuse Relay for Life events all into one, more “robust” gathering, explained Bob Elinskas, staff partner for Relay for Life of CNY. And it’s been quite the success, he said, as their fundraising goal had already been surpassed before the first lap even started. As of Saturday evening, nearly $115,000 was raised with more donations expected.
The survivor lap kicked off the day full of walking, music, and ceremonies, followed by the caregiver lap. As survivors dressed in purple walked the parking lot track, a cage of doves was released to mark the occasion.
At the end of her lap, participant Cordellia Urbanik proudly exclaimed, “I’m 33 years cancer free!” She’s been going to Relay for Life events for several years, beginning the 1980s, she said.
Surrounding the track perimeter were “camps” allotted to each registered team. Teams consisted of various groups, sponsors, and regular citizens all there hoping to make a difference.
Cory Jenner, founder of “Fishing for a Cure…One Cast at a Time” sought to share his organization’s mission with others, which started less than a year ago, inspired by his best friend who was diagnosed with cancer and a family member who passed away from the disease.
The Madison County based program seeks to improve quality of life for cancer patients and survivors through fishing trips, primarily on Oneida Lake. Jenner — a licensed charter captain — takes participants along with their family and friends out for a day on the water to make memories and practice their skills. No experience is necessary, only a valid NYS fishing license.
Relay for Life CNY is chocked full of activities spanning from noon until 9 p.m. “...the program consists of fundraising events meant to symbolize a cancer patient’s journey through cancer. The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical effects, emotions, and mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment,” said Mike Jaquays, emcee for the event (Jaquays is also a Daily Sentinel staff writer). “When you come to the Relay for Life event, you join our community in supporting cancer patients and fighting back against this disease. Together, we are working to find cures!”
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