Hundreds gathered for the eighth annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School on Saturday evening, June 11 to celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember those who haven't, and fight back for future generations.
Teams of people camped out at the school track and took turns walking or running. Each team had a representative on the track at all times during the event and, because cancer never sleeps, the relay went on into the wee hours of the morning and many even toughed out the rain.
At the event, junior high school students sang God Bless America while the Stratford Road kindergartners signed along. The Relay started with the Survivor's Lap, an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories they've achieved over cancer. After dark, everyone lights candles lining the track for the Luminaria Ceremony in remembrance of those who've died. Later on, there is the Fight Back ceremony, when participants make a personal commitment to save lives by taking up the fight against cancer.
This year's relay raised over $50,000 to benefit American Cancer Society programs. The Mattlin Miracle Makers from Mattlin Middle School contributed $4,484 to the total through craft sales and other fundraisers throughout the year. Team captain and Mattlin guidance counselor Stephanie Ralton said, "It really is a beautiful community event. Everybody comes out and supports each other."
Also among the hundreds was County Legislator Judy Jacobs who said, "It was a very moving event, and always is. A time of reflection and hope."