Relay for Life nears 2019 goal

Photo by David VanDeventer
Walkers were full of community spirit on Friday, May 17, at DeMuro Park where the 13th annual Nutley Relay for Life was held. The goal for this year was to raise $90,000 and so far the tally is $88,615 and rising. The occasional heavy rains that fell on relay night did little to diminish the fun for those who did attend.

NUTLEY, NJ — The 13th annual Nutley Relay for Life will meet its 2019 goal, according to Commissioner Mauro Tucci. With that figure being $90,000, $88,615 has already been donated.

“I think we’ll overshoot our goal,” he said in a recent telephone interview.
The event was held May 17 in DeMuro Park. During its 13 years, $1,324,195 has been raised for the American Cancer Society. This year, there were 328 participants and 40 teams with 76 walkers. Forty-five cancer survivors attended. One team, Annie’s Courage, raised $24,304.

“That’s a lot of money for one team,” Tucci said. “They reached the sapphire level. That’s never been done before.”
Annie, of Annie’s Courage Team, is Anne Rotonda. She is the director of the Nutley Special Young Adults.
“Annie created her team years ago,” Mauro said. “She outdid herself. We refer to her as our Nutley angel. When things get tough in Nutley, we don’t give up. Her team is a great example.”

According to a previously published report, Rotunda has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
The theme of the 2019 Nutley Relay for Life was “Believe and Hope.” Tucci said it was his opinion that hope started in Nutley.
“Our people and those who put it together, the chairpersons and the recreation department, they don’t give up. They put out hope.”

During the years, donation totals have varied. From this experience, Tucci said totals are pretty much right on target for the goal. He thinks $100,000 might still be reached this year, but on relay night, intermittent rain kept people away from the track. He thought the luminary experience was the most moving event of the relay. This involved names displayed on illuminated paper lanterns and also projected onto a screen. The names are of loved ones who have died from cancer.

“Just the fact that we had 45 survivors, that’s pretty phenomenal,” Tucci said.
He began the relay after his son, having seen a similar event in another community, suggested it.
“It’s something I’m committed to,” Tucci said. “My wife and daughter had thyroid cancer and both had their thyroids removed. Thank God they survived.”

The Nutley Relay for Life, he said, hits close to home.