Elmwood Park relayers share cancer stories around the track
Noreen Lundin (right) hugs Jennifer Carbonara after Carbonara spoke about her father's cancer during the Relay For Life of Elmwood Park/River Grove on June 15 at Elmwood Park High School. Lundin and Carbonara were co-chairpersons of the event. | Buzz Orr~
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:23AM
“Cancer never sleeps so neither will we,” said Relay for Life coordinator Jennifer Carbonara.
This was the mantra for Elmwood Park/River Grove’s annual Relay for Life event at Elmwood Park High School on June 15-16.
According to Carbonara, this year’s event consisted of 15 teams and 120 participants, with more people attending throughout the evening.
Like any relay-styled event, participants walked around the track and when finished, another member of the team would take over walking. Someone from each team had to be walking around the track at all times. The walking started at 6 p.m. Friday and ended at 6 a.m. Saturday. Donations were made in honor of a survivor or loved one.
“Our goal this year was to raise $22,000,” Carbonara said. All proceeds for Relay for Life go to the American Cancer Society.
“The money stays local with the American Cancer Society,” explained Carbonara. “The money offers services for local cancer patients. If you need a ride to your chemo treatments, they will pick you up for free and drive you. The funds we raise tonight will fund those types of programs.”
Carbonara felt a special need to contribute to the organization after her father died from stomach cancer seven years ago.
“I wanted to make this event bigger and bolder. In honor of my father, I wanted to make my mark,” she said. “And this is my mark because I helped create this.”
Carbonara wasn’t the only participant with a touching story.
“I lost my father to cancer in 2004 when I was 11,” said Melissa Shore of Chicago. “I wanted to do something that helps, and I think this definitely does.”
Melissa Tomek of Elmwood Park walked with the EPNCO team in honor of her cousin Pamela.
“My cousin Pamela died when she was 5,” Tomek said. “I wanted to do this for her. I think it’s good that Relay for Life helps cancer patients and survivors.”
The Elmwood Park cheerleaders added more spirit by performing a cheer and stunt sequence. There also were booths selling purses, jewelry, sculptured art, and face painting. A portion of all items were donated to the American Cancer Society.
Carbonara hopes to continue organizing Relay for Life for years to come.
“In honor of my father, I will do whatever it is I need to do to raise awareness for cancer and fight this disease,” said Carbonara. “I hope at some point in the future we won’t have to do these events because we’ve cured [cancer].
“But as long as there’s a reason to fight, I will fight and be on this committee and do what I’m capable of doing to make this event bigger and better.”