Looming storm clouds and a rainy day did not stop the participants of this year’s Relay for Life from raising awareness and funds to fight cancer.
Thirty teams signed up for 11th annual event at Haley Park in Warfield on Saturday and raised a total of over $82,000.
“It has been fantastic,” said Suzanne Belanger the volunteer event chair, who was one of many who helped make the day a tremendous success.
“It’s really amazing how people carried on in the rain. Rain or shine on paper and in practice.
“We’ve had a very supportive community and amazing sponsors.”
The wet weather failed to dampen the spirits of the teams, which shared the common goal of fighting cancer.
“It’s been rainy, but very enjoyable…a very powerful experience,” said Kristi Holm, a member of the J.L. Crowe 2011 Grad team.
Umbrellas in hand, the colorful and determined team members would take turns walking or running around the track for most of the 12-hour event.
The morning started off with an inspiring and emotional Survivor Victory Lap, which honored and celebrated cancer survivors.
That started a day packed full of activities and fun for everyone. There were plenty of warm up exercises to get everyone loosened up, including a Zumba class in the morning.
Entertainers, dancers and musicians graced the stage for almost the entire event. Meanwhile, the kids were kept busy with face painters, crafts, games and movies.
There was a cupcake booth where walkers could take a pit stop and refuel with a personalized treat.
Patti Bielli presented the Neil Paolone Spirit of Relay Award to a very-deserving Anna Fraser, who was unable to attend the ceremony. The award is presented to a cancer survivor whose determination and spirit to fight back has inspired others.
Other awards for best-dressed, best tent and most outgoing were handed out in the afternoon.
As the sun set and the rain finally ceased, teams and event-organizers prepared for the Luminary ceremony. Candles were lit and placed around the track.
Each candle was dedicated to a family member or friend who has lost their battles with the disease. The moving event was a powerful reminder of just how many lives have been lost to cancer.
Each of the participants lit a candle and a silent lap around the track was taken. The poignant scene transformed into a moment of uplifting optimism as the word “hope,” was lit with candles in the center of the field.
“Thank you to all the teams and volunteers who have made today such a great experience,” said Belanger.