Relay for Life Kickoff Event - The Start of a Life-Saving Movement


L to R: Adele Gimon, Chris Liszner, Mayor Grabowski, Frank Nunziata, and ACS official Halle Baker

For the first time since Covid, Clifton had a kick-off rally to publicize and raise awareness for the Clifton-Rutherford Relay for Life event, scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 4th at Clifton Stadium. Relay for Life is one of the fundraising arms for American Cancer Society; money raised goes to research, education, and support for patients, survivors, and their caretakers. People form teams and raise funds prior to and on the night of the event, when supporters take turns walking around the track. After dark there’s another ceremony honoring those who’ve lost their lives as well as those still fighting.

The theme for this opening rally, held at the Senior Barn, was football as we're so close to the Super Bowl. The room was decorated with footballs, balloons, hearts for Valentine's Day, and Relay information. People came dressed in clothing from their favorite teams – lots of Giants blue! – and others wore Relay shirts with inspirational messages.

Attendees were treated to a delicious brunch including homemade quiche and deviled eggs, pastries, fruits and veggies, coffee, tea, and juices. Rutherford Mayor Frank Nunziato said he was happy to be partnering with Clifton and Clifton Mayor Ray Grabowski added that Relay is personal to him, having lost his brother Matt to cancer nine years ago this month.

Twenty-five-year survivor Johanna Purdon spoke about her treatment, groundbreaking at the time but now considered routine. She added that she’s been involved with Relay since then and is an advocate and a resource for people just starting their battle. Halle Baker, American Cancer Society regional Development Manager, spoke briefly about the Relay mission and asked for volunteers for both the day of, as well as for coordination of the event. She also talked about luminarias, plain white paper bags people can buy and decorate in honor of a loved one that are placed around the field at Clifton Stadium during a very moving ceremony. A few videos and pictures of past ceremonies are on the Relay Facebook page.

The Relay kick-off was filled with stories of hope, resilience, and determination. There will be a number of different fundraisers over the next few months, starting with one on Tuesday, March 5th at the Clifton Wendy's from 5 to 8:00 PM.  Just mention "Relay For Life" and 15% of all purchases, both dine-in and take-out, will be donated to the Clifton-Rutherford Relay group. Relay members will be there to share a meal and answer your Relay questions.

Certain cancers are on the rise in the United States but the risk of succumbing is steadily declining. Supporting research and programs that bring awareness about prevention, early detection, and treatment options helps save lives. Every dollar raised makes a difference and brings us one step closer to a better treatment and eventually a cure.

A luminaria bag.
L to R: Mayors Ray Grabowski and Frank Nunziata, and ACS official Halle Baker.
Johanna Purdon shared her story.
Gina Scaduto with a door prize - a signed football donated by the Giants, with Relay volunteer Kimberly Mscisz.
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