CRANFORD, NJ — This will be the ninth year that Cranford will participate in the annual Relay for Life event. Twenty-four team members will participate on Team Angela, a team created seven years ago in memory of Cranford resident Angela Skelton after she lost her battle with cancer. Event Lead Linda Miklencic, of Cranford, was a personal friend of Angela, who has participated in the event the past six years in her memory.
“The team originated seven years ago, and I have been involved with the event for the past six years,” said Miklencic. “I do this every year in Angela’s memory. People of all ages participate in the event. There are a lot of middle- and high-school students as well as high school alumni that get involved. Participants come from all over the place. This year, the event will take place at Orange Avenue School and over 500 people have already registered. There is a heavy high school population. So many people get involved.”
This year’s event will take place May 20. Registration will start at 6 p.m. and the event will begin at 7. Miklencic is the head of the committee which invites new members to join each year. They inform members about the schedule and run the annual kick-off party in February.
“We make sure the community hears what’s in store,” said Miklencic. “The event is symbolic of cancer. Cancer never sleeps, so this is an event that takes place overnight. Each team must have one person on the track at all times. Cancer survivors run the first lap, caregivers run the second lap and everyone run the third lap.”
Each team earns money for the American Cancer Society through the support of sponsors as well as fundraising events. The money raised goes to support research, transportation and lodging. Each team has partnered with the American Cancer Society to contribute.
“The money raised also goes to fund wigs and beauty tips, mainly for women, who are experiencing changes in their bodies,” said Miklencic. “The transportation is for the patients who need rides to chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The lodging is for patients or caregivers that need a place to stay if they need to travel to the best hospitals such as Sloan-Kettering in New York City.”
Jane Dent, Relay for Life Manager of the American Cancer Society, has partnered with Team Angela for this year’s event. She will be able to answer any questions and ensure the team follows the proper guidelines. Dent will also play a large role in collecting the funds.
“Relay for Life is an event that brings together over 400 million people to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember those we have lost and empower individuals to fight back against this disease,” said Dent. “Candlelight illuminates the track during the ceremony of remembrance. Each luminaria bag remembers or honors the life of a loved one who has battled or continues to battle cancer. To donate a candle in someone’s name, please visit www.relayforlife.org/decatural. The American Cancer Society is the largest nonprofit organization funding cancer research in the country. It also provides numerous educational assistance and peer-support programs available to cancer patients and caregivers free of charge.”
In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt completed the first Relay for Life in Tacoma, Washington. Just one year later, 340 participants joined the event. Since then, Relay For Life has become the world’s single largest activity to support the fight against cancer. Each community’s Relay For Life is essential to the worldwide power of all the events taking place in more than 5,000 communities and 20 countries. Overall, Relay For Life raises nearly $500 million a year, making it the largest fundraising event in the world.