With the crash of drums, a hoard of participants in grey and purple t-shirts took their first step in the Pine Bush Relay for Life. Cheers erupted as the Walker Valley Marching Band led the smiling participants.
Their laps around the small gravel track have raised huge amounts of money for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life is a national event in which thousands of communities host annual events which fund everything from cancer research to free rides to chemo.
Denise Harrison, lead Pine Bush Relay for Life committee member, said Pine Bush Relay for Life raised $96,000 since the last relay closed in August 2018.
Donna Henke, lead Pine Bush Relay for Life committee member, said the Pine Bush Relay for Life chapter has raised about $2.4 million over 15 years.
“We are here to remember those we have lost to cancer and renew our commitment to fight back against this disease which has taken so much from many of us,” Henke said, addressing the crowd at the Relay for Life event. “Each of you have unique reason for being here today. We want to make a difference in the fight against cancer. We are making a difference.”
Manuel Perry, MD, said cancer research has led to new treatment methods in his practice, several of which he learned about in a recent conference.
“There are lots of very rapidly changing and exciting developments that are taking place in oncology and I can tell you personally I have implemented new treatments this week just based on the results of that conference, so you should all be excited by that and know that the money you raise really makes a difference,” Perry said.
This year, 30 teams participated in the event. Seven teams have participated in the event since its inception: Connected 4 a Cure, Free Spirits, Crispell Crusaders, Sisters of Hope, Pine Bush Equipment, Family of Reason and Hannafords.
Committee member Terri Montimurro said teams fundraise throughout the year through online donations and events such as sip and paints, tricky trays and more. Teams fundraised on the day of the event through food sales, a tricky tray, games, a dunk tank and more.
There was entertainment throughout the day, with country line dancers, a country band, a visit from Santa on a tractor and a luminary ceremony. Laps were held throughout the day to honor caregivers, survivors and victims.
Completed just in time for the event, the Garden of Hope is a garden planted at the relay site to honor and remember family and friends who have been affected by cancer or any other life-threatening illness.
Cancer survivor Laura Stein is a five-year survivor of breast cancer. A school nurse and mother of two children, Stein’s role as a caregiver was suddenly turned on its head, leaving her devastated.
But with the loving support of her friends and family, Stein finally became cancer free on April 4, 2019.
“I was elated,” Stein said.
The next relay for life event will be hosted by Team PBE and is on June 13 at the Town of Wallkill golf course. Registration begins at 8 a.m. To register or learn more, visit Team PBE Relay for Life Golf Outing on Facebook.