Over the 15 years Newtown has hosted a Relay For Life, the fund- and awareness-raising non-sporting community building event to benefit the American Cancer Society and its research, outreach, and education programs, the activity has occurred in various locations with widely diverse participation.
In its first few years, Newtown’s Relay For Life drew thousands of participants, survivors, caregivers, and supporters to the high school’s Blue & Gold Stadium. But in recent years — particularly after postponing the 2013 Relay out of deference to the many initiatives emerging after 12/14 — the event has continued with a smaller pool of organizers and participants.
While support and participation in Newtown’s Relay For Life has cycled from one of the biggest community events supported by thousands to one that has taken on a more boutique nature with hundreds of participants and supporters, the impact of cancer on this community has not waned.
Like any business, nonprofit, congregation, community group, or family, The Newtown Bee has not been spared — as evidenced by both the newspaper’s Associate Editors Shannon Hicks and John Voket serving as honorary cancer survivors for last year’s Relay For Life.
They are just two of the staff members of The Bee Publishing Company who have had a doctor tell them, “You have cancer.” Beyond that, throughout Newtown and around the world, co-workers, friends, and family members have had to summon the strength to utter three little words that quicken their heart each time they are forced to say them: “I have cancer.”
Each year since 2004, when Newtown held its first Relay For Life, The Newtown Bee has both sponsored and promoted the local event by calling residents to attend. But a truly successful Relay is built on momentum that begins with a kickoff party.
The larger the number of community members, caregivers, and survivors who attend the launch event, the more their collective energy inspires others to support the cause, to fundraise, and to turn out en masse for the main event.
The 2018 Newtown Relay For Life will return to Newtown High School on Saturday, June 16. The kickoff party is set for this Sunday, February 25, from 1 to 3 pm, in the high school’s cafetorium.
Guests will be among the first to hear and share important information about this year’s Relay, maybe win a prize, enjoy some food donated by local businesses, and find inspiration from a surprise guest speaker.
The Relay For Life movement unites communities to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember the many we have lost, and to take action for life-saving change.
Anyone who can attend this weekend’s gathering is asked contact the American Cancer Society’s senior community development manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-563-1520. Reservations do not confirm participation commitment. They only make sure there are enough refreshments — and handouts — for all who attend.
The kickoff is free, and while attendees are not required to donate or sign on to be part of the main event, that is the ultimate hope for organizers.
By putting our collective power of community to work now, we will not only fund groundbreaking research and support programs that serve our own families, friends, and neighbors, we will also celebrate and honor the loved ones we have lost, and help make Newtown one of the top communities in Connecticut leading the fight for a world without cancer.
It is up to every resident who has been touched in some way by this insidious disease to join the fight and make 2018 the biggest and best year ever for Newtown’s Relay For Life.
This week’s editorial was contributed by Associate Editors John Voket and Shannon Hicks.