“I Relay for my mother Joanne, who will you Relay for?”
Crystal Hoffman, a procedures specialist at FM Global, asked that question Tuesday evening at the final meeting of the Johnston/North Providence Relay for Life. Her team, Team Blue Jays, is one of 13 teams that will participate in the Relay, starting tomorrow afternoon and running through Saturday morning inside Johnston War Memorial Park.
“This year, more than 1.4 million Americans will hear the words: ‘You have Cancer,’” Hoffman said. “I know too many people affected by cancer ... that is why I have joined the American Cancer Society on a mission to save lives and create a world with more birthdays by participating in the Relay.”
In that mission, Hoffman and Team Blue Jays will participate in the 18-hour walking marathon that will open at 4 p.m. tomorrow and continue through 10 a.m. Saturday.
Each of the 13 teams and approximately 200 participants will set up campsites around Memorial Park and at least one member from each team will continuously walk around the track throughout the night.
The Johnston/North Providence Relay for Life is one of 14 such events that the American Cancer Society will hold in Rhode Island through June 30. The national theme is “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back.”
Locally, teams are using Disney as their theme.
“All the teams will have some sort of Disney connection during the Relay,” said Ryan Belmore, a staffer with the New England office of the American Cancer Society that is based in Warwick. “It should be quite interesting, as well as colorful.”
The Relay for Life, as team captains like Lori Boffi and Kelly Mitchell said during Tuesday evening’s special T-Shirt Night at Pocasset Manor, is a celebration of loved ones who have won their battle against cancer. It’s also a remembrance of those people who have succumbed to cancer. The Relay kicks off with an always-emotional Survivor’s Lap that will begin at 6 p.m. following the official opening ceremony.
“Survivors are the reason we Relay,” Hoffman said. “If you are a survivor, please come and sign up for the Relay. We consider a survivor as anyone who has ever heard the words ‘you have cancer’ and we invite all cancer survivors in the community to attend for free and participate in the survivor reception dinner.”
This year’s survivor reception dinner is being sponsored by Spirito’s Restaurant of Providence and will be held in the Park’s Dunn Building.
“I miss my mother terribly but I know she is looking down proud of my participation in such a wonderful event. Together, we are saving lives and creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” Hoffman continued. “If you have already donated, thank you. If you haven’t, please come to the Relay and donate.”
In the case of the Team Blue Jays, Hoffman issued an invitation for people to purchase one of only 100 tickets at $10 each for an opportunity to win a $500 Silpada gift card. All proceeds, she said, will go to the American Cancer Society and the winner will be announced tomorrow night at the Relay.
People who do attend the Relay tomorrow night will also be able to purchase a Luminary Bag that will be placed around the perimeter of Memorial Park during a silent lap set to step off at 9 p.m. The names of participants’ friends who have lost their lives to cancer will be read at that time.
This year’s Luminary Lap will have a special addition, as Team Blue Jays member Ashley Krug will play the bagpipes.
It’s all systems go for the 2012 Relay for Life, an event that will feature live entertainment by Bird on a Rock and DJ Cush-David Cushman, kids cupcake decorating, pound auction, Deaf Comic Mike Murray, kids fun with a piata, burning of the bras, a smores fundraiser, Miss Relay drag contest and the special Fight Back Ceremony at 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
The teams and their respective captains who have each held their own fundraising events leading up to this weekend are: Team Raging through the Ages, Terry Novak; Team One Step at a Time, Lori Boffi; Team Mad Hatters, Kelly Mitchell; Team Blue Jays, Crystal Hoffman; Team Answer to Cancer, Sam DeCosta; Team Debbie Calzone; Team Faith, Melissa Costa; Team NAC, Lester Torrey; Team Rookie Rock Stars, Megan Lemoi; Team Kim, Alyssa Pangiocco; Team Perrenials, Pasqualina Feole; and Team Kee to Success, Amanda Kee. Together, they hope to shatter last year’s $40,000 raised to battle cancer.
The Johnston/North Providence Relay for Life will be held rain or shine. People are reminded that pets, tobacco, drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited from this event. Also, this year’s team captains, team members and committee volunteers have issued an invitation for those who’ve never seen the Relay to come by Johnston War Memorial Park and watch the proceedings.