Wilton Relay for Life returns June 8

More than 130 people have signed up and more than $22,000 has been raised for this year’s Wilton Relay for Life, scheduled for Friday, June 8, on the Wilton High School track.

Relay for Life is the world’s largest fund-raiser to end cancer, sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS). 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.

Wilton Relay for Life will take place from 4 to 11 p.m. this year, kicking off with an opening ceremony at 6:30 to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. After that, cancer survivors and those who have ever cared for someone with cancer will take a special lap during a survivor/caregiver walk.

A luminaria ceremony will take place at 9:30 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.

As of May 22, 43 teams and 144 participants had signed up for this year’s Wilton Relay for Life, which is sponsored by Ring’s End and Realty Seven.

“This year we have more new teams, which means more new fund-raisers that will be taking place this year at the event,” ACS senior community development manager Grace Scinto told The Bulletin.

“There are typically multiple fund-raisers taking place throughout town that our teams put on before Relay,” she said.

This year’s Wilton Relay for Life fund-raising goal is $65,000.

Scinto said she anticipates around 300 to 350 participants this year and encourages people to “join us for a fun-filled, family-friendly day.”

Student involvement

Last school year, social studies teacher John Priest started the Relay Club at Middlebrook School to get middle school students involved in Relay for Life.

“Middlebrook Relay for Life Club is an after-school club that I began in the 2016-17 school year. After being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in June of 2015, fighting it through the 2015-16 school year, I joined the Wilton Relay for Life event as a speaker in the spring of 2016,” said Priest.

“The club was one of the ways I knew, as a teacher, I could make a positive change for kids, kids who could benefit from being empowered in the face of cancer.”

The club brings together sixth through eighth graders “every other week” to help plan, organize and orchestrate activities for Wilton’s annual Relay for Life event, said Priest.

“Currently, we have about 42 students that are part of our Relay Club, with about 25 or so that attend each week,” he said. “The students are involved in planning community fund-raisers, contacting local businesses, creating signs and promotions.”

Priest said the club helps “bring together students who want to form teams,” which he said are “the core” of Relay for Life’s fund-raising structure.

“Groups of family, friends [and] teammates sign up at the Wilton Relay for Life site and as a team, they raise money to help fight cancer for months leading up to the June 8 event,” he said.

“Certainly people come by the evening of Relay to donate, but the team structure offers a place for people to work together and have fun while saving lives.”

Priest said the event itself is “part fund-raiser, music performance, carnival, memorial, and walk-a-thon all rolled into one special evening.”

“This year, our goal was to engage many of our wonderful high school students, clubs, and community groups,” he said.

For more information or to pre-register for this year’s Wilton Relay for Life, visit relayforlife.org/wiltonct.