Relay for Life sets highest fundraising goal to date

Relay for Life Moorestown aims to raise $75,000 by the time the June 8 event comes to a close.

In 2008, Allison Schurr lost her grandfather to lymphoma, and his passing compelled her to take a stand against cancer. She began walking in Ocean City’s Relay for Life the subsequent year and was inspired to bring the event to Moorestown. So, as high school freshmen, Schurr and her co-chair Caroline McCoy organized Moorestown’s first Relay for Life and have continued the tradition ever since.

Last year, Relay for Life Moorestown raised approximately $65,000, and over the last three years, the event has raised more than $160,000. Now a senior, Schurr and McCoy have set their highest fundraising goal yet, aiming to reach $75,000 on Friday, June 8, when participants take to the track at Moorestown High School.

Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, according to Alex Basseches, senior community development manager with ACS. Relay is a team fundraising event where team members take turns walking around a track with each event spanning between six and 24 hours in length.

Each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps, Basseches said. Moorestown’s event will take place from 6 p.m. to midnight on the track at Moorestown High School.

“Cancer patients don’t stop because they’re tired, and for one night, neither do we,” Basseches said. “It’s a celebration honoring survivors, caregivers and supporters all while raising money for cancer research and patient programs/services.”

Each team sets up a themed campsite and continues its fundraising efforts by collecting donations for food, goods, games and activities. This money counts toward the overall team fundraising goal. There is also music, food and a variety of activities that fill the event day. This year’s theme is a beach party/luau, and so participants are encouraged to dress up and decorate their campsites accordingly, Basseches said.

Participants are welcomed during the opening ceremony, and survivors and caregivers kick off the event by walking the first laps. From there, the rest of the teams join them on the track, and throughout the rest of the event, team members take turns walking to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer.

When not walking, participants can take in a variety of activities while learning about the American Cancer Society, and shortly after the survivor/caregiver laps, those individuals are invited to the survivor dinner as a way to further honor them, Basseches said.

After the sun goes down, Relay hosts the Luminaria Ceremony. The lights around the event are turned off, and luminaria bags surrounding the track are lit. Basseches said the “moving and emotional” ceremony remembers those lost to cancer, celebrates the survivors and shows those affected by cancer that they are not alone.

In a show of support, Moorestown Township Council has declared June 8 through June 15 as “Relay for Life Week in Moorestown.”

“We encourage all of our citizens to help finish the fight against cancer by participating in the Relay for Life event at Moorestown High School on Friday, June 8,” said Mayor Stacey Jordan.

Schurr will graduate Moorestown High School this spring, and as such, she said they’ll need new recruits to join the Relay for Life Moorestown club at MHS and carry on the tradition. She said with her senior year coming to an end, she’s grateful for the overwhelming community support.

Since starting Moorestown’s Relay, Schurr’s 18-year-old cousin was diagnosed with lymphoma, which has forced her to delay attending college and resulted in the loss of her hair. Schurr said her cousin’s fight has encouraged her to work even harder.

“My drive is stronger than ever,” Schurr said. “Together, as a community, we can fight this disease, and one day we will find a cure.”

Interested participants can join at www.RelayForLife.org/MoorestownNJ. Those unable to participate can donate at the same link, volunteer either in the local ACS office located in Cherry Hill or volunteer or participate at another Relay event in South Jersey.