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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Bennington Relay For Life Celebrates 10th Anniversary

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, June 26, 2006

Survivor Kiara Tifft and her aunt, Bennington Relay For Life Co-chairwoman Billie-Jo Tifft
Bennington, Vt. - Julie Lapham started tackling the community's Relay For Life a few years ago because her boss was "passionate" about the relay.

"At first, it was because our team captain was passionate about this," said the Hopeful Stars team member. "She was my boss at work and I wanted to help her support her passion."

Then, the relay became more important to Lapham.

"In the past two years, I've had two uncles diagnosed with cancer."


Cauldron of Hope
Donna Carley walked a survivor lap and then added a few more trips around the Mount Anthony Union High School track.

"I'm glad to be here, really," the cancer survivor said. "I'm glad to be walking around."

The June 24 10th anniversary of the Bennington Relay For Life was honored by a visit from Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie. Dubie spoke during the 6 p.m. opening ceremonies and acknowledged the event's 2005 ninth place [per capita] relay national fundraiser finish. The event raised over $186,000 after all the 2005 relay donations were collected.

So far, this year's relay has raised over $175,000 earmarked for the American Cancer Society's cancer cure research programs, said relay Co-chairwoman Billie-Jo Tifft.

Dubie is familiar with the ravages of cancer and the life-saving progress that's been made over the past decade, he said. Dubie told the more than 900 people in attendance that his mother died from cancer. A sister is a breast cancer survivor, he said. Dubie noted what he termed the "Four Fs" of the event: family, fellowship, finances, and fun.

A proclamation read by Dubie and signed by Gov. James Douglas noted that during the 1996 relay, 500 luminaries were sold and $12,000 was raised. In 2005, over 11,000 luminaries were sold.

"Bennington is leading the way for the state of Vermont and leading the way for the nation," Dubie said. "You can be sure these dollars will be spent wisely."

Vermont Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie spoke during a June 24 Bennington Relay for Life.


Opening ceremony speakers included event co-Chairwoman Sandy O'Neill and cancer survivor Susan Erickson. Noble and Ryan Levesque performed music during the opening and a Cauldron of Hope was lit by Betty Levesque, a 15-year cancer survivor. The ceremony included a release of a flock of doves, which swooped over the track area. A color guard led the survivor lap as dozens of cancer survivors made their way around the track accompanied by cheers, applause, and more than a few tears. Torchbearers Helen Hain, Ed Ritoch, Peg Baratto and Melinda Crowl led relay laps during the luminary ceremony.

Dedicated laps included a lap for area schools that worked to raise money for the relay and a lap of silence to remember those whose battle with cancer was lost. A luminary ceremony began at 9 p.m.; this year, over 12,125 luminaries were lit by relay volunteers. Relay participants walked along the darkened track led by the glow of the candlelight.


State Rep. Mary Morrissey and Mary Ellen Devlin were among those who lit over 12,000 luminaries.
Other event fundraisers included a "circle of silver," which asked that relay participants line the inner edge of the track with quarters.

Survivors wore medallions suspended from thick purple ribbons. Among the widely diverse survivor group were children, including 6-year-old Kiara and 7-year-old Jacob.

The event concluded during the June 25 morning, with 7 a.m. closing ceremonies led by O'Neill.

Hopeful Stars relay team members Julie Lapham and Tom Hunt


Bennington Relay For Life Teams

Bennington Lanes/Billy T's

Bennington Fire Department

Bennington Law Enforcement

Berlin Bears FCCLA

Catamount Mamas and Papas

Colors Of Life

Comar Crusaders

Energizer

F.A.C.E.

Fighting Irish

Flutterbies

Gail's Family Spirit

Gail's Gang

Grandes

Gynomites

H.E.R.O.S.

Hannaford

Hathaway Electric

Healers From Here

Hemmings Motor News

Henry's Market

Home Depot

Hoosier Hopefuls

Hopeful Stars

Hula-Gang

Kelly's Heroes

MAUHS Interact Club

Missionary Alliance

Moose Lodge 1233

Off The Wall

OK Corral

Peppermills

Resort Finance

Riptides

Sanders Soldiers

Scot Mazda

Team BH&R

Team SVC

Team U.S.A.

The Fighting Trio

Tri-State Pennysaver's Red Hot Roosters

Twin Valley H.S. Drama Geeks

Valarie's Team

Vermont Composites Inc.

Wal-Mart Wanderers

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
Post Comment
Thanks so much for the great coverage of Bennington's American Cancer Society's Relay For Life. Susan Bush wrote a wonderful article that made me feel like I was reliving the event !
from: Gary Briggson: 06-26 00:00:00-2006


 
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