Officially, there were 773 participants on 66 teams, but in truth, there were more than 1,000 people walking the track and lighting the night at the Weston Westport Relay for Life last weekend.
“The public came out in full force to show their support. It was terrific, a really beautiful event,” said Lisa Wolak, principal at Weston High School, where the relay took place.
“The mood was very festive and positive,” Ms. Wolak said, although there were lots of tears, too, she acknowledged, especially after the keynote speaker addressed the crowd just before luminarias were lit for a silent lap.
The speaker was Mallory Chila, a senior at Weston High School who has been successfully battling cancer for the past year.
“She is incredible, a really remarkable young lady, and such a good kid. She’s my hero,” Ms. Wolak said.
Through all of her cancer treatment, Mallory still kept up with her schoolwork, and she will graduate on time with her class on June 19.
In addition, she is starting a foundation to help children with cancer be able to buy the medications they need.
“She’s such an inspiration,” Ms. Wolak said.
At that is what Relay for Life is all about — inspiration. The Weston relay, in its third year, raised more than $125,000 for the American Cancer Society this year.
Of the 66 teams, 34 raised more than $1,000 — many significantly more. The highest earning team was Weston Racquet Cares from the Weston Racquet Club, which raised nearly $10,500, followed by the Weston High School soccer team, which raised more than $8,000.
The numbers are expected to climb even higher as donations are collected over the next several weeks.
The Weston relay was also chosen as a site where people could sign up to become a part of an historical study of those who do not have a history of cancer. More than 80 people signed up, giving blood and filling out some general information Saturday night.
One of the participants was Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.
The needle prick to give some blood turned some people off, Ms. Weinstein said, but she was impressed with how many people stepped up to be part of the study and how smoothly it ran.
“I figure, that one little needle prick is a lot less painful than the chemo cocktail or the port in the chest so many cancer victims have to endure,” Ms. Weinstein said. “If we can do something to prevent our children from having to go through this — and virtually everyone knows someone and is somehow affected by cancer — if we can do this one small thing, then it’s well worth a little needle prick.”