Once again Howard Beach came together to stand up to cancer.
More than $150,000 was raised at the Fourth Annual Relay for Life of Howard Beach by 302 participants and 37 teams. The event, which took place on June 9 and 10, was sponsored by the American Cancer Society and held at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park.
About $600,000 has been raised over the four years the event has been held, said Phyllis Inserillo, the relay’s organizer.
Increasing awareness to the community was an extremely important component of the event and was the most rewarding part, Inserillo said.
“In Howard Beach, not only do we raise the money, we raise awareness in our local schools, local businesses, churches and whoever will allow us to get to the kids and the young people of our generation and let them know how important early prevention is,” she said. “[We want them] to understand that cancer unfortunately affects everyone in one way or another.”
The afternoon was spent playing sports and dancing, and included a special performance by the lead singer of the freestyle group TKA.
Once the sun set, those who have lost their battle with cancer were remembered with a Luminaria ceremony. Participants shared personal stories and watched a slide show dedicated to the memories of those lost.
“It was the culmination of the evening, to remember all those we’ve lost in the fight,” said Inserillo. “Really, that’s what the event is all about: to see so many people and to know they aren’t the only ones who’ve been through it.”
Kim Trinchese, a cancer survivor and leader of the team Forever Friends, was this year’s honoree. Her team, comprised of family members from across the country, raised $21,908 – the third highest amount of any team this year. HB Relay Rocks came in first, with $53,621 in donations.
“Relay For Life is so important,” said Trinchese. “We need to get the word out so more people can get involved and give back. We should all be grateful.”
Inserillo said with the progress the event has made every year since starting, next year they will be able to reach the million dollar mark in funds raised.