PLAINVILLE – In celebration of survivors, support of research and in memory of those gone, the Plainville-Bristol Relay for Life returned Saturday to Norton Park having raised over $120,000 in the name of the fight against cancer.
“This is our first full relay back since 2019 due to the pandemic,” said Alexis Maliga, American Cancer Society director of development. “We’re super excited to be here and have raised about $124,000 for the fight against cancer. These two communities come together in a big way to raise money and awareness for the fight.”
Multiple ceremonies and walks were held over the course of 24-hours in the park to celebrate cancer survivors and caregivers along with activities to remember those gone. A “Fight Back” ceremony was also held where relay participants shared how they’re going to continue to fight against cancer in the coming year.
Thirty-eight teams registered for the event with around 300 participants, not including those who visited the park to support the various team booths and activities.
“I think it means hope especially when we do the Survivor Lap to see all the survivors on the track. It really encourages and provides hope for those who are recently diagnosed and continuing the battle. It’s an opportunity for the community to rally around something that touches everybody,” continued Maliga.
Rebecca Kerrigan, event co-lead, said the event this year was hard for her as a year ago Friday, the family lost her sister-in-law.
“It’s my way of fighting back,” she said. “The fact we keep adding names to the list instead of taking names away for people who aren’t cured, it’s a frustrating thing and (the relay) is my way of coping with everything.”
Alli Knight, co-lead, said the event was special to her as her father died of pancreatic cancer over a decade ago.
“It’s something we do as a family and my family isn’t just blood. It’s all of my friends and extended family,” she said. “We’re here and the community being here makes it all the more special.”
Married duo Shaun and Tammy Wyman of the Relay Team Save the Next One have spent 15 years supporting Relay efforts and cancer research through fundraising. Tammy’s father died around 16 years ago and Shaun’s aunt died of breast cancer.
“Every year, we’ve been selling chili, chowder and fried dough,” said Tammy. “The chili and chowder are my dad’s recipes and it’s sort of what we do to honor him. He used to make fried dough for us all the time as a little treat.”
Shaun said the Relay for Life has become a major event for the Wyman family and its friends over the years. He said the event started small but has grown over the years as relay teams encourage and compete to raise more funds each year.