Relay for Life raises $210,000 and counting
Team Parrotheads for the Cure paused to pose for a picture during the last lap of the Relay for Life of Franklin County at the Franklin County Fairgrounds Saturday. The team, in its eighth year, collected about $7,500 to donate to the fight against cancer.
The Leyden Knights, minus two stray teammates, pose proudly at the Franklin County Fairgrounds Saturday after completing their first Relay for Life, and beating their $500 fundraising goal. Team captain Melissa Adamski, front and center, rallied her troops for thier first relay, after losing her mother and two friends to cancer.
GREENFIELD — After a night of downpours, the sun broke through the clouds Saturday morning, shining brightly for the last laps of the 18th annual Relay for Life of Franklin County.
Many of those who walked in the anti-cancer fundraiser have made it through their own dark and stormy nights to see the shining sun of survival.
Others, however, have not.
“We’re here because others can’t be,” said Sandy Yager, of the Parrotheads for a Cure team. “It’s a mission, a calling. We’ll walk no matter the weather.”
Despite Friday’s pouring rain, the Parrotheads were able to raise about $7,500 through on-site raffles and pre-event pledges.
The team consists of seven members, plus about 15 “coral reefers,” people who help the Parrotheads by gathering donations and helping the team stay supplied as well as donating items for their raffles.
“Helen Hicks, of Shelburne, makes us a quilt to raffle every year,” said team captain Carol DeRose. “She does it in memory of her sister, Nancy Gifford, who died of cancer a few years ago.”
Though the Parrotheads and coral reefers have lost friends and family members to the disease, they’ve also seen some of their loved ones win their battle against the big C.
“Tom DeRose is the reason we started the team,” said Yager. “He had cancer about nine years ago.”
Carol DeRose was happy to have her husband, Tom, march alongside her in his purple “survivor” T-shirt.
Yager’s father, Lyman Bennett, and friend Bill Caines also wore survivors’ shirts as they walked Friday and Saturday with their fellow Parrotheads.
Though the team vowed that they wouldn’t give up their fight, some took a much-needed break.
“Most of us went home last night, to dry our clothes so we’d have something to wear today,” said Yager. The whole team made it back for the final lap Saturday afternoon.
Though the veteran Parrotheads have eight years of experience under their belts, some teams were just starting out.
“This is our first year,” said Nick Adamski, Leyden’s deputy fire chief and member of the Leyden Knights team. “Our goal was to raise $500.”
They did it, and plan to up the ante next year.
“We raised $644,” said his wife, team captain Melissa Adamski. Though many teams sold merchandise and raffle tickets at the relay, the Knights did all their fundraising beforehand.
“Next year will be much better, because we’ll have a whole year to raise money,” said Melissa Adamski. Formed late in the game, the team had about two months to raise money before the event.
The Leyden Knights’ 10 members are a mix of Leyden firefighters and members of the Leyden Firefighters Association. Some of them have walked the relay before, with other community groups, or the Leyden Fire Department’s former team, which participated in the relay until about five years ago.
By Saturday afternoon, the relay had raised about $210,000, according to organizers, but would continue to accept late donations until August.
When the dust around the track at the Franklin County Fairgrounds cleared after last year’s relay, the event had raised $230,000. The relay’s best year, said volunteer accountant Michael Nelson, was 2008, before the recession. That year, he said, the Relay took in $430,000.
Despite the sluggish economy, he said, the relay consistently brings in more than $200,000.
Though the economy may affect donations, it can’t hurt team spirit. Seventy teams, and more than 600 participants, braved the weather to walk for the cause.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279