Relay for Life lights up DeMuro Park

Photo by David VanDeventer
A Relay for Life was held for the 17th time in Nutley at Demuro Park. The event raises money for the American Cancer Society but also provides support to cancer survivors and their caretakers.

NUTLEY, NJ — More than $66,000 was raised at the 17th Annual Relay For Life held in DeMuro Park to benefit the American Cancer Society.
“We had a big crowd,” said Halle Baker of the American Cancer Society.

“It was an amazing event. A lot of teams showed up this year. It was our first year back after the pandemic so it was nice to see everyone there.”

More than 250 people participated, some in teams, others in small groups or on their own, during the May 19 event that ran from 6 to 11:30 p.m.

“Dayna Hess was the event lead this year,” Baker said. “She was amazing, getting everyone back together. It was a beautiful event.”

Relay For Life is a community-based fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Each year, more than 5,000 Relay For Life events take place in local communities in 20 countries.

As the American Cancer Society’s most successful fundraiser and the organization’s signature event, the mission of Relay For Life is to raise funds to improve cancer survival, decrease the incidence of cancer, and improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their caretakers, according to a press release about the event.

The Nutley Relay For Life event is organized under a volunteer Relay Committee and implemented by volunteers. Currently, 4 million people take part in Relay events in 5,000 communities in the United States. It is estimated that Relay For Life events have raised $5 billion to date, with an incredible $1.45 million raised in Nutley since 2007, the release said.

The evening was filled with remembrance for those affected by cancer as participants walked the DeMuro Park track filled with luminaria bags and other unique features.

Volunteers organize a variety of fundraising activities and actions throughout the year, ranging from small events to the signature Relay event on May 19, in which racers can participate as an individual or as a team.

“Relay for Life is not just an event; it has become a household name here in Nutley,” said Township Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci, who has been involved with the event since its beginnings.

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In recognition of his many years of service, Tucci was given the Nutley Relay for Life Eternal Flame.
“He has learned so many life lessons as a caregiver,” Relay for Life Chairperson Dayna Hess said in her introduction, “but his passion for a cure started long before cancer struck his own home. He has poured his heart and soul into this project year in and year out for 17 years. What better way to say thank you than by honoring him here tonight.”

The Eternal Flame Award was established to honor, remember, and recognize a special person in each of three individual categories; Caregiver, Survivor, and Memory.

“I’m not usually at a loss for words,” Tucci said. “But I am at a loss for words. This movement was never about me. And it never should be. It’s about all of you and all of us together doing everything that we can do to fight this dreaded disease.”