The American Cancer Society will host its annual Relay For Life of Moorestown Regional fundraiser at Moorestown High School on June 4 from 5 to 9 p.m.
Samantha Cunha, development manager for the American Cancer Society, explained that Relay For Life is the world’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising effort. It brings together families, friends, neighbors and communities to honor those who fight cancer, survivors and those who have been lost.
“It’s dedicated to saving lives from cancer of course,” Cunha said. “For over 35 years, all communities across the world come together and we honor and remember our loved ones and take action for lifesaving change.”
Cunha noted that relay participants create teams to support someone in their lives who has been affected by cancer.
“They usually just spend that experience of just being able to be there, present in the moment, raising money for the cause, so that hopefully we have a world free of cancer one day,” she noted.
Relay For Life hits home for Cunha. Her aunt and stepdad’s father both passed away from brain cancer.
“We’re just excited to be able to celebrate the lives of people that truly deserve it,” she explained. “Even though there (are) different volunteers from the beginning, it is pretty cool to see that the whole community loves to see it still at the school and have all of the students and hopefully the faculty and staff involved as well.”
After dark, community members may dedicate a luminaria to a lost loved one, someone who is battling cancer or anyone who has overcome the disease and participate in a moment of silence.
“At that time, we have a little ceremony and we speak a few nice words,” Cunha noted, “We have everybody gather around, and then we go around the track and we light all the luminaria bags, and it’s pretty much just a symbolic moment so that everybody could reflect on why we’re there, and especially to think of the person that they are dedicating those bags to.”
Luminarias are decorated with individual names and tea lights are used to represent loved ones.
“From the distance, you get to just see the beautiful lights, but when you get closer, it’s pretty amazing just to see that every single one of those lights is an actual person that was affected (by cancer),” Cunha said.
Proceeds from the event help fund breakthrough research, lifesaving screenings and 24/7 phone support for the American Cancer Society.
“That is pretty much just a line that you can call at any time … If your family member or if you are struggling with cancer and you have any questions that you just can’t seem to understand when looking it up yourself,” Cunha said.