When a family member is fighting cancer, it touches every aspect of that family’s life.
That is why Weston High School Principal Lisa Wolak is looking forward to participating in the American Cancer Society’s second annual Weston/Westport Relay for Life at Weston High School, which starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, and ends with a closing ceremony at 6 a.m. on Sunday, May 6.
Ms. Wolak, who lost her husband Glenn to cancer in 2010, hopes the whole community will turn out on Saturday.
“The best thing about Relay is that it shows you that you are not alone — that there are people that are going through the same thing as you. Relay is one of the most uplifting events that I have ever attended. Its message is simple. People care. I hope that everyone comes, if only for a little while, and experiences Relay,” she said.
Relay for Life is an overnight relay-style event held at the high school track. Teams camp out overnight, while members take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event. Food, games activities, and entertainment are provided. Teams raise money for the American Cancer Society through pledges and donations.
Hope to surpass
Relay for Life events are held annually across the country, and last year was the first time one was held for Weston and Westport. Weston High School senior Brain Lamy, who is co-chairing the event with junior Justine Belport, said while last year’s event was successful, he is hoping to surpass it this year. “Last year we had 463 participants, 23 cancer survivors, and 46 teams. The event raised $79,000 for The American Cancer Society,” he said.
This year’s goal is to raise more than $100,000. “We have more participants this year. So far, 693 people people have registered, and there are 68 teams,” Brian said.
Student government leaders and Weston High School students are heavily involved in planning Relay for Life.
Ms. Wolak’s daughter, Olivia, is coordinating entertainment, which will include live music by school musical groups and professional bands as well as a number of games and activities.
“I want to thank the students of Weston High School who have done a tremendous job organizing this event,” Ms. Wolak said.
Another eager participant in this year’s Relay is Dimas Perez, the custodial night supervisor for Weston public schools.
Mr. Perez is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years ago and still undergoes chemotherapy treatment. He had surgery last year for it as well.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Mr. Perez and his band Tres Amigos will be performing Latin and Spanish music at the event. “Relay means so much to me. I am so grateful for all the hard work people put into it,” he said.
Mr. Perez, who lives in Bridgeport, has gotten a lot of support from friends and neighbors who plan to support him at the Weston event. He was also thrilled to find out that on the same day as Weston’s there will be a Relay for Life event held in his hometown, Maunabo, Puerto Rico. “My family in Maunabo will be participating too, so this is a very special to me,” he said.
Despite his health struggles, Mr. Perez continues to work. He looks forward to taking his laps on Saturday and finds the whole experience uplifting and full of hope. “Never give up,” he said.
There will be a lot going on at Relay for Life, and those who aren’t on a team are encouraged to stop by, enjoy the activities, take a walk, and support their neighbors, said co-chairman Justine Belport.
“A lot of people think Relay for Life is just about people with cancer but it’s more than that. It also recognizes the impact on people who are caregivers and need support. It gives everyone a voice,” she said.
The following is the schedule of events for the Weston/Westport Relay for Life:
Saturday, May 5:
• 2 p.m. — Registration starts.
• 3 — Entertainment begins with performances by the Fifth Grade Chorus, Middle School Chorus, and Middle School Jazz Band.
• 4 — Opening ceremony, featuring U.S. Congressman Jim Himes and Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.
• 4:30 — Survivor lap.
• 5 to 6 — Survivor reception.
• 5 — Family friendly activities, including yoga, donut eating contest, water balloon toss, hula hoop contest, Minute To Win It contest, and flag football.
• 6:45 — Live music featuring bands Take Zero, Borrowed Glory and Tres Amigos.
• 8 — Westport Dance Studio performance.
• 8:45 — Weston High School Choir
• 9 — Luminaria ceremony.
• 11 — Fight Back ceremony.
Sunday, May 6
• 6 a.m. — Closing ceremony.
There are 693 participants currently signed up for Relay for Life, comprising 68 teams. Additional participants are welcome.
The top three fund-raising teams so far are Friends For A Cure, Kids 4 A Cure, and Team WIS.