MIDDLEBURY — Relay for Life, an all-night walk staged at the Middlebury College athletic fields, drew hundreds of participants last Friday and Saturday and raised nearly $77,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Relay for Life Co-chair Marissa Hurwitz said the 10th annual event drew 520 people who, as is traditional, set up tents on Friday evening, April 26, and walked laps until the middle of Saturday morning. Participants collected pledges for cancer research, but the event also gave them a chance to meet and get to know others who are dealing with cancer as a patient, a survivor or a member of a family touched by cancer.
Hurwitz said the lighting of a display of candles was quite moving.
“A high point this year is definitely the luminaria ceremony, as it always is,” she said. “Although incredibly emotional, seeing the reasons why people you know, and don’t know, are relaying and who their loved ones are who they are here fighting back for is always one of the best parts of the night.
“Knowing you’re not alone in your fight makes everything better.”
In addition to the luminaria, there was performances by student bands, a cappella groups, a community children’s tae kwon do demonstration, sharing of food and a full night of building hope. The theme this year was “Hang Ten” to celebrate the 10th year of Relay at Middlebury.
“And, of course, waking up to the sunrise and still seeing people walking around the track is one of the most inspirational sights one could ever see,” Hurwitz said.
For many this was a special time t remember and honor beloved town and college community members who were so important to Relay in past years and died in the past 12 months. This included Elaine Holbrook and Ana Martinez-Lage.
Two teams — Survivors and the Fittest, and OVA Chicks — were the biggest fundraisers; both gathered $7,500 or more. The Waterhouse Family raised $5,000-plus. The Mother Hens and Middlebury softball were in the $3,000-plus category. Teams raising $2,000 or more were the Middlebury College seniors, Ruggers & Co., 10 Years Strong, Middlebury football, and Tenacious Ta Ta’s.
“From my perspective: I don’t think Relay could have gone better,” Hurwitz summed up. “The weather was incredible, the participation from the community and college was incredible, and the enthusiasm from everyone made it all worthwhile.”