Kristen Ostrowski is committed to raising funds for cancer research and awareness.
It’s the fourth year she’s serving as co-chairman of the Shelton and Naugatuck Valley Relay for Life that takes place on Saturday, June 7, at the Shelton Riverwalk.
“I will be doing relays until no one has to hear the words, ‘You have cancer’ ever again,” Ostrowski said.
The Relay for Life starts off with a luncheon for cancer survivors and cancer caregivers at noon on Saturday. The event is an all-night, “18-hour journey,” Ostrowski said, representing 18 hours in the life of a cancer patient.
Teams of walkers camp out around the track, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track at all times throughout the night.
‘Relay Around the World’
A total of 34 teams and 352 people will participate in the 2014 relay, which has the theme “Relay Around the World.”
It is scheduled to end at about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.
A mantra of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay for Life is “Cancer never sleeps,” and the 18-hour walk progresses from daylight to sunset, when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, according to the ACS.
The middle of the night represents the time when a cancer patient seeks treatment, and the early morning, walkers are exhausted, just as cancer patients are during treatment.
For the patient, the rising sun represents the end of treatment and “new beginnings for the cancer patient.”
“Relay for Life is a unique opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we’ve lost, and fight back against the disease,” Ostrowski said.
‘Make a difference’
“This disease has caused too much pain for so many, and it’s time for us to make a difference,” said Co-Chairman Jason Carlucci, owner of the Dew Drop Inn of Ansonia.
“Every dollar raised brings us one step closer to the day where we will never have to worry about cancer again,” Carlucci said.
Each Relay for Life team has conducted fund-raising activities, and most teams conduct fund-raisers at the campsites during the relay.
The goal this year is to raise more than $100,000, Ostrowski said, and donations have increased from the $60,000 level in 2010.
A large percentage of the money raised goes directly to the ACS for research.
Following Saturday’s luncheon, the opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. when survivors and their caregivers walk the track.
During the “Fight Back Ceremony” at 5 p.m., a volunteer speaker will share an inspiring story and challenge listeners to take a personal pledge of action such as to stop smoking, eat healthy and exercise regularly, according to the Relay Planning Committee.
Luminaria bags will be illuminated during a 9 p.m. ceremony, and each bag is personalized with a name, photo or message in memory or in honor of a loved one who has been affected by cancer. The names are read aloud while participants walk the track.
Canned food donations sought
The planning committee is hosting a canned food drive in hopes of using the cans to help keep the luminaria bags from falling over and catching fire. After the event, the cans will be donated to Spooner House and the St. Vincent DePaul Society.
Canned food may be dropped off at the luminaria tent before 8 p.m. on Saturday, and luminaria bags may be purchased that day at $5 per bag.
The closing ceremony will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 8.
Lots of family activities
Organizers expect more 700 people to attend the event that will include a zumba class, karaoke, a midnight movie, a watermelon-eating contest and a frozen T-shirt contest.
There will also be themed walks around the track, free massages, the Miss Relay Pageant, and a beauty pageant where men dress up as women, show off their talents on stage and walk the track to collect funds.
How to find out more
For more information about forming a team or donating, visit relayforlife.org/sheltonct or email Ostrowski at NVRelayforlife2013@yahoo.com.
People also may form teams at the Relay for Life event by visiting the registration area at the pavilion at the Riverwalk.
For information on ACS programs for survivors, call 800-227-2345.