Relay For Life kicks off with successful early fundraising

  • Pixar character toys sit on a table at the Relay for Life kickoff at Yankee Candle Saturday, January 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Supporters of Relay for Life gather at Yankee Candle for the Relay for Life kickoff on Saturday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Cancer survivors and caretakers stand to be recognized at the Relay for Life kickoff at Yankee Candle on Saturday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • A representative from the Stafford Striders team accepts the spirit award at the Relay for Life kickoff at Yankee Candle on Saturday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/21/2017 5:04:30 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The more than 50 Franklin County residents sitting inside the Yankee Candle annex Saturday were stumped.

What two cancers, they wondered, are almost entirely prevented by screenings?

In an instant, the answer seemed to click in their minds. With a shuffle, a few stood up from their seats, darting to submit their answers and hopefully win a prize.

The question — which was correctly answered with “colon and cervical cancers” — was one of four trivia questions directed to attendees at Relay For Life of Franklin County’s kickoff ceremony, held Saturday morning at the Yankee Candle annex.

The kickoff ceremony serves to “get the energy and excitement going” for Relay For Life, which will be held on June 9 and 10, according to American Cancer Society Staff Partner Andrew Paterno. Plus, it’s a time to get more teams signed up and, for many, to kick off their fundraising efforts.

“It’s a good way to get fired up,” Betty Johnson of Colrain said.

Johnson and her cousin, Janice Barnes, of the Funny Farmers Relay team, both attended the event. Being Relay For Life’s 22nd year in Franklin County, Johnson and Barnes have participated for 21 years.

Barnes, also of Colrain, said the kickoff ceremony is a great time “to hear about how much everyone’s raised, and just the caring.”

“That’s what it’s all really about,” she continued.

Relay For Life is an international event in which participants take turns walking around a track to show support for those who have been affected by cancer and raise money for the American Cancer Society’s life-saving cancer research and programs.

During the kickoff event, members of Relay For Life of Franklin County’s volunteer planning committee and Relay participants shared their reasons for getting involved.

“I relay for hope,” said Lisa McKenna, co-chair of the planning committee. “I want (my grandson) to live in a world where there’s no more cancer.”

Some attendees were survivors of cancer themselves, including Johnson, who had uterine cancer.

“Unfortunately, cancer affects a lot of people in our family,” Johnson said. “Cancer has hit just about every family in the United States in some way, shape or form.”

“It’s a huge, huge, wonderful cause,” Barnes said of the relay.

Last year, McKenna said more than 700 participants on 64 teams raised $221,316 for the American Cancer Society. This year, the planning committee has set a goal of $225,000.

It would seem participants are already off to a good start.

“More money got brought in today than at most kickoffs,” said planning committee member Matthew Hall. “We’re already at $13,500.”

Hall added that 25 teams have registered.


Just before four rounds of the “Relay Rugby” trivia quiz, honors were also awarded to the top individual fundraisers and top fundraising teams in 2016. James Vassar, who raised $8,533, and Dick’s Angels, which collectively raised $25,029, were awarded top individual fundraiser and top fundraising team, respectively.

The 2016 Spirit Award was given to the Stafford Striders.

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