Staying Up and Standing Up to Cancer

June 28, 2013

submitted by Sonny Tylus

This year’s Relay for Life started with the threat of thunderstorms, but just as the event was about to begin, the skies cleared up.  The event took place at the Salem High School field.  One of this year’s co-chairs, Terry Conroy, started the event off by thanking everyone and the sponsors.  She went one to talk about this year’s theme “getting back to basics and why we are here.”  Bill Sherry, the other co-chair, added in that he would like to see cancer eradicated in the near future.  Bill as well other members of his family are cancer survivor lap.  Mike Carney, this year’s Honorary Chairman, thanked everyone for coming and especially his family.

He was treated to a special surprise as all four of his children, Mike Jr., Rob, Bill, Nanci and some of his grandchildren were in attendance.  As usual, the event started off with the Survivors Walk followed by the Care Givers Lap.  The Survivors after their walk were treated to a sit-down dinner courtesy of T-Bones.

At Relay, people and their teams are constantly walking around the track.  Each hour there was a theme for the walkers.  One of the funniest events was the Zombie Halloween Invasion lap.  A prize was given for the best costume.  The 9 o’clock lap was the Luminaria Lap in which people “gather and walk the track in silence remembering and honoring our friends and loved ones who have fallen victim to cancer.”

This year, the committee put a big push to get kids involved.  Everywhere you looked there were kids.  A giant ribbon was created by the kids with them making up the ribbon.

Each team has its own site on the football field and a theme.  One of the more moving sites was Angie’s Family Ties.  Team Captain Angie Lester talked about how she has been doing Relay for Life since 1997.  She started in Haverhill, MA, and moved to Salem nine years ago when they stated.  Her site featured a giant purple ribbon with the names of family members and friends who had fallen to cancer.

As usual, the crew from Salem Community TV was involved in with the filming of the event.  You could watch the event live on your computer as SCTV provided on line streaming.

On Sunday morning those people that were still there were treated to pancakes and sausage courtesy of the Salem Firefighters.  Assistant Chief Paul Parisi talked about how they had set up at 5:30 in the morning.  The 12 volunteers served over 500 pancakes and sausages.  The PB&J team was serving coffee.  They had set up a generator and were offering various flavors.

The DJ, Tyler Querol from Canobie Lake Park was still going strong at 7 a.m.  He hadn’t gone to bed that night.  Canobie supplied the sound equipment and volunteers.

This year’s Relay for Life had 48 teams, 433 participants, 90 survivors, 320 Luminarai and is projected to raise $110,000.  Additionally, donations are still being accepted on the Salem Relay For Life site ( until August 31.  People can check them out on Facebook at RelayforLifeSalem for pictures from this year’s event as well as information when we start preparing for next year’s event.