In 2007, when the first Relay for Life fundraiser was held in Secaucus, residents raised an impressive $70,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS). The following two years, in the midst of the recession, donations dropped to $30,000, still an impressive figure given the economic climate. Last year, the total improved to $33,000.
This year, event organizers hope to approach the event’s pre-recession heights.
“We’re upping our goals from last year. Basically, we’d like to double everything,” said Ryan Carbone, chair of this year’s Relay organizing committee. “Last year we had about 250 or so participants, or ‘Relayers.’ This year we want 500. We’re looking for 50 survivors [to participate]. We had about 23 last year…This year we’d like to raise $60,000.”
All money raised goes to the ACS for research and local medical treatment.
“Right now we only have seven people on the organizing committee,” he said, adding, “It would be great to have about 12...We’ve had a hard time getting people who volunteered last year to come back.”
First conceived in 1985, Relay for Life is a national overnight walkathon and is the ACS’ signature fundraising event. Nationally, Relay for Life raised $410 million last year.
The Secaucus Relay will kick off the evening of Friday, June 17 and end early the next morning.
Residents and local businesses are invited to form teams of people who will walk in the event. Each team member pays a $10 registration fee and commits to raising $100. Each team can have up to 15 people.
Typically, Relay begins with a special dinner in honor of local cancer survivors that’s followed by an opening ceremony. Walking begins with survivors and their caregivers taking the first two laps around the field. Registered participants can join in beginning with the third lap.
After that, at least one member from each team will be on the field walking until the Relay ends the next morning.
Walking briefly stops at some point during the event for the “luminaria” ceremony, a candlelight celebration/remembrance of cancer survivors and those who have been lost to the disease.
‘Music for Life’ concert
A number of other fundraisers are typically held in tandem with Relay for Life of Secaucus, both in the weeks leading up to the event and during the walk itself.
Local students were particularly active last year. At Secaucus High School the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes held a “penny war,” in which each class competed to see who could collect the most loose change. The change was donated to the ACS and the class that collected the most money won a prize. High school students also staffed a car wash that was hosted by the North End Fire House.
The event is already getting similar support from the community again this year.
For the second year in a row, Relay will be held at Clarendon School field. Organizers said the outdoor venue offers participants a better experience that’s more consistent with other Relay events across the country. Carbone said the switch to Clarendon may attract a few new faces to Relay this year.
But reaching the 2011 fundraising goal will require the participation of many more people and businesses than last year.
As a lead up to the even this year there will be a number of smaller fundraiser in support of Relay for Life, including a concert this week by various bands and music ensembles from the Secaucus Public School District.
On Wednesday, five school bands will present Music for Life, a concert to benefit the ACS in support of Relay for Life-Secaucus.
The concert, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Clarendon School gym, will feature performances by Clarendon’s Select Chorus, the high/middle schools’ jazz band and percussion ensemble, and rock bands from Huber and Clarendon.
Students under 18 can attend the concert free of charge, but there’s a $5 suggested donation for adults 18 and over. All proceeds will benefit the ACS.
“Some of the bands that will be performing on Wednesday have performed at Relay for Life in the past,” said Clarendon School Music Director Sean Sonnet. “While we were performing last year, [ACS Special Events Manager Yvonne Leon] suggested that we do a separate concert and fundraiser for the Relay.”
This will be Music for Life’s inaugural concert.
People who want additional information about Relay can call Carbone at (201) 320-0373. Relay teams can sign up at www.RelayForLife.org/SecaucusNJ.