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Sue Bush
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A Walk of Faith: June 16-17 Relay For Life

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Central/Southern Berkshire "Relay For Life" is scheduled for June 16-17 at Pittsfield's Burbank Park.
Pittsfield - A June 16-17 "Relay For Life" planned for Onota Lake's Burbank Park will offer some cancer survivors a chance to rock on.

Rocking Chair Relay

Those unable to walk a Friday 6 p.m. survivor lap may be able to spend some time participating in a "Rocking Chair Relay" that will occur only during the survivor lap.

The eight rocking chairs were provided by Pittsfield Furniture. This is the first year that the rocking option has been offered, said relay Coordinator and Co-chairwoman Mary Robert. Tracy Puntin of Dalton is an event co-chairwoman as well.

Celebrate And Validate

The Central/Southern Berkshire relay is expected to host a large group of cancer survivors during the survivor lap.

"We already have about 200 people signed up for the [survivor] lap," said Robert during an interview earlier this week.

The lap is an important part of the fund-raising relay. Those who have survived cancer are able to validate and celebrate their survivor status. Those who may be battling cancer or are watching a friend or relative undergo medical treatment for cancer may feel encouraged as the survivors complete the lap.

Relay Activities

The Taconic Marching Band is expected to lead the survivor lap. At 7 p.m., a caregiver's lap will begin and a luminaria ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.. A "Midnight Mr./Ms. Relay Contest" is part of the relay events.

Relay events begin early Saturday, with a children's fishing derby slated to kick off at 6 a.m.. Kripalu Yoga is scheduled to be on site at 10 a.m. and a Cancer Awareness Team and a "healthy scavenger hunt" are on the agenda from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. The popular David Grover is expected to perform at noon.

Afternoon events include a performance delivered by magician Ellen Swann Mazzer [1:30 p.m.-2 p.m.], and a performance by Delcie, a "silent clown" [2:30 p.m.-3 p.m.]. Movies, face-painting, and a "Garden of Hope" are included in the relay activity agenda.

Mayor James Ruberto is expected to participate during the event's opening ceremony. The National Anthem will be performed by Karen Auge, Melissa Smith, and Jay Wise.

A Bit About The Relay For Life

The relay fundraiser benefits the American Cancer Society and the organization's cancer research programs.

Over 4,000 communities host "Relay For Life" nation-wide. The relays are designed as 18-hour or 24-hour events, and teams of walkers agree to walk laps throughout the event, with support from sponsors who agree to make financial contributions supporting their efforts. A May relay held in the Northern Berkshires raised over $115,000, organizers of that event reported.

In some instances, a walker's employer may agree to match the sponsor donations.

Colorectal surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt launched the first relay 21 years ago in Tacoma, Washington. A marathon runner, Klatt spent 24 hours running at a Baker Stadium track and through donations from friends and relatives, generated $27,000 for a local ACS office.

With Klatt's leadership, the first team relay event was held in 1986. The "City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer" stepped off with 19 teams in place.

Additional information about the Central/Southern Berkshire "Relay For Life" may be acquired by visiting www.iberkshires.com and selecting a "Relay For Life" icon.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail or at 802-823-9367.
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