DERRY — Come rain or shine, on Friday, June 21, at 6 p.m. at the Pinkerton Academy Track, more than 700 people will gather to celebrate, remember and fight back at this year’s Relay For Life of Greater Derry/Londonderry.
Planning for the event began back in late fall of last year, with committee members working behind the scenes for months to secure sponsorships, connect with many local businesses for donations, and reach out to the community in an effort to educate about the event. Stacey Bruzzese, executive director of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, will be this year’s honorary chairman.
One of the main purposes of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life is to celebrate the survivors. Many people wonder if they have to “beat” cancer to be considered a survivor. At the Relay for Life, you are a survivor from that life-changing minute your doctor tells you your diagnosis. That is when your fight begins and that is when you are celebrated for your strength.
Currently, 65 survivors have registered to participate at this year’s Relay event, but committee members are hoping that more survivors will sign up to join in celebrating their own and others’ journey through cancer. This year’s survivor’s dinner will be provided by Amphora.
Another special moment at the Relay For Life event is the luminaria ceremony. All of the white luminaria bags that have been decorated in memory or in honor of loved ones line the track, are lighted after nightfall, and the sounds of celebration from early in the night are replaced with silent reflection.
At this year’s Relay, those bags will be weighted down with canned goods, rather than sand, which was used in years past. After the event, those canned goods will be donated to three local food banks in an effort to pay it forward.