BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Fairview Elementary School held its second Relay for Life on Friday afternoon, June 17.
Relay for Life is a global fundraising event to combat cancer. Communities and organizations raise money through donations which are then contributed to the American Cancer Society. Events are held at various times throughout the year. Fairview Elementary School raised almost $2,000 this spring, according to Tim White, the sixth-grade mathematics teacher at the school who also helped coordinate the event.
“Besides donations, we want to educate the kids on cancer-prevention measures,” White said. Students are told to use sunscreen, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods, he said.
Money is raised from direct donations, selling ACS mementos, and luminary bags.
This last item is a paper bag with a dedication written on it. The dedication is usually to a cancer victim, from a loved one.
At Fairview, about 65 luminary bags encircled the gymnasium floor. Each bag contained a light stick that illuminated the paper bag like a lantern. Principal Sal DeSimone pointed out two dedicated bags. One was for his mother, the other, his father.
“Every day they’re finding new ways to fight cancer,” DeSimone said.
As part of the event, students were taken outside to the blacktop playground. They lounged on blankets until an appointed time when they walked in a circle around the playground. Once inside the school again, a solemn procession walking around the luminary bags was planned for them, White said.
Ed Ahart, a community event manager for the ACS, was at Fairview. Ahart said the big Bloomfield event for Relay for Life would be this weekend at Brookdale Park. He called the Fairview activity a “relay recess.”
“It is a condensed school version to raise money and walk the track,” he said.
Relay for Life is the premiere ACS fundraiser, according to Ahart. It started as a way to spark community awareness for the battle against cancer.
“It began in 1985,” he said. “A doctor decided to run on a track for 24 hours.”
The doctor was Gordy Klatt, a surgeon. He began Relay for Life in Tacoma, Wash. Klatt died Aug. 3, 2014, from heart failure.
Ahart said the goal of the ACS this year was to raise $433 million. The money would be used for research, prevention, and cancer awareness programs.
Ahart also said the Fairview class which raised the most money would be given Relay for Life T-shirts. White’s class raised $500 and won.