Wilton Relay for Life gains more student involvement

The 10 newest members of this year’s Relay for Life of Wilton Committee are Wilton students, who Relay for Life community manager Lindsey Hanley said are “amazing” and “dedicated to helping out and planning the event.”

One of those members is Middlebrook sixth grader Riley Tecce, who decided to get involved in Relay for Life and join the committee because two of her family members had cancer.

“My sister had a cancerous tumor and my mother just previously had breast cancer,” said Riley, who has participated in Relay before and is looking forward to “raising more money than last year and getting many more people to join the fight.”

Wilton High School junior Emily Mitrione has been involved in Relay for Life as a team member for several years and decided to join this year’s committee to “get more involved.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing the solidarity at the event and the connection that is felt every year,” said Emily. “There’s really no other event in town like it.”

Wilton High School junior Megan DiMattio, who has been participating in Relay for Life since she was 11, is another new committee member this year.

“I have been involved in Relay for Life for the past five years and I am excited to play a part in the planning process,” said Megan.

Committee meetings

Since November, the approximately 15-member committee has been preparing and organizing Wilton’s fifth annual Relay for Life, which will take place Saturday, May 14, at Wilton High School’s Fujitani Field.

“Trackside has been gracious enough to allow us to host all of our meetings there,” said Hanley. “We started off meeting once a month, and then, as the event gets closer, we moved to biweekly in January and now weekly from the end of March until the beginning of May.”

At its March 21 committee meeting at Trackside Teen Center, the committee discussed a wide range of Relay-related topics — from fund-raising ideas and ways to promote this year’s event to who the honorary chair should be and ways to garner more participation.

Each committee starts with a “mission moment to remember why we are meeting and what we are Relaying for,” said Hanley.

“These moments can be stories about a cancer survivor or caregiver or learning about the American Cancer Society’s mission and research,” she said. “It’s really anything that will remind everyone the importance and meaning of what Relay is.”

Committee members then update each other on what they have been working on before breaking off into Bring the People, Build the Fun, and Fund the Mission subcommittees to plan the event.

“There’s so much that goes into it, from planning the survivor reception and luminaria ceremony to encouraging participants to sign up and planning the entertainment schedule,” said Hanley.

Relay for Life

Relay for Life is the world's largest fund-raiser to end cancer, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. During Relay for Life, teams take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park, or fairground, raising funds and awareness for the fight against cancer.

Unlike in previous years, this year’s Wilton Relay will not be an overnight event and will instead take place from 3 to 11 p.m. This decision was made by the committee, with input from the community, said Hanley.

Wilton Relay for Life will kick off with an opening ceremony at 3 to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. Cancer survivors will then take the first lap around the track during the 3:15 survivors lap, and anyone who has ever cared for someone with cancer will walk a special lap during the caregivers lap at 3:20.

A candlelight Luminaria Ceremony will take place at 9 to remember loved ones lost to cancer, support people who currently have cancer and honor people who fought cancer in the past. The event will end with a closing ceremony at 10:30 to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.

“There has been a lot of hard work that goes into planning the event behind the scenes for months,” said Hanley, “and I cannot wait to see all of the hard work that the committee members have been doing come together.”

As of March 23, Relay for Life of Wilton had raised more than $9,000 and had 29 teams and 166 participants signed up for this year's event.

Anyone interested in joining the Relay For Life of Wilton Committee may email Hanley at Lindsey.Hanley@cancer.org. For more information, visit relayforlife.org/wiltonct.