Relay For Life: Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.

story & photos
by Jessica Warzeniak

During the Southeastern CT Relay For Life on June 28th – 29th, 647 people, on 36 teams, gathered at Norwich Free Academy and took turns walking or running laps. But Relay isn’t about taking laps – it’s about coming together in the fight against cancer.

This year, Relay For Life participants helped raise close to $77,000 (and awareness) to support the American Cancer Society in its lifesaving mission to find a cure. But, Relay is more than just a fundraiser. It’s a chance for people in our community to come together to remember and support each other. Funds raised through Relay For Life not only go to research, advocacy, and education, but also for vital programs and services that give people hope and answers. At Relay, our community gathered to celebrate survivors, remember those lost to cancer, and to fight back against cancer.

Celebrate the lives of those who battle cancer

This year, 151 surviviors were honored during the first lap of Relay, dedicated as the Survivor Lap. Survivors proudly wore their purple shirts and walked their lap while their names were read and the crowd cheered them on. Backus Hospital sponosored the Survivor Lap and reception.

Remember those lost to the disease

The Luminaria Ceremony, held at 9:00 pm on Saturday, honored those who faced cancer first hand and remembered those who lost their lives to the disease. Taking time to remember people who lost their lives to cancer is an important part of Relay. During the emotional ceremony, Ken and Kenneth McKenna, a father-son duo from Colchester, played “Amazing Grace” on their bag pipes as 530 names were read. Around the track, 743 luminarias burned into the night – as they lit the way, they offered a path of hope for the walkers. “Without them, nothing happens. They are special people out there,” whispered Leon Fields, a sports writer and emcee for the past eight Relays.

Fight Back against a disease that takes too much

Through Relay For Life we can fight back against a disease that touches far too many lives. At Relay, survivors, caregivers, and caring citizens came together to build hope and raise awareness. We can fight back for a future where cancer no longer threatens the lives of the people we love. For more information about Relay For Life, visit