Finding the Magic in Relay For Life
Beetle Press oversees the publicity for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Hampshire County. This year, intern Alaina Leary, a junior at Westfield State University, has done much of the storytelling. Here is one of her pieces on Relay.
It was 9 a.m. on a Saturday in late January and most high school freshmen were sleeping. Davis Caron-Vera and Matti Tacy of Northampton, though, were at the Relay For Life of Hampshire County’s kick-off breakfast to learn new ideas on raising money to fight cancer.
For these two 15-year-olds, the choice to put Relay before sleep was obvious because cancer has touched each of their lives. Davis’ mom, Celia Vera, was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affected her skull in 2000 when Davis was still a baby. Matti’s grandmother, Honey Tacy, passed away from cancer when she was very young.
Davis and Matti have both participated on teams with their family members before, but now they are picking up the cause on their own. The two currently co-captain their Northampton High School Relay team, One Step at a Time.
The two said their fellow teammates are also dealing with a parent, family member or friend who has or had cancer, and so they all understand the importance of Relay – that it’s not just a fun night in the park.
Having three survivors on their team this year – Davis’ mom and two others, one of whom is a classmate – helps drive the impact home. Matti described the experience as an “eye-opener.” She finds it invaluable to see that the money raised during Relay goes to “real people getting real treatment.”
Matti and Davis said their dedication to Relay comes in part from how inspiring it can be. Every year, there is a cancer survivors’ lap as well as a lap for the caregivers of those with cancer, and watching them round the track is moving for the teens.
“Even though you’re here, and it’s such a horrible thing…you still see the bright side,” Matti says as she describes the typical experience of a luminaria ceremony. “It’s still uplifting.”
Participating in the Relay For Life has been an inspiration for them. Every year, they find new reasons to come back and spread to others the hope that participating has brought them.
They tell stories like this: One year, Matti’s friend learned that his mom had passed from cancer during the Relay For Life. To show her support for him, Matti walked with him around the track for the remainder of the night.
“I look forward to Relay every year,” Matti said.
Davis said wholeheartedly, “Relay makes you realize how lucky you are and how thankful you are.”
To donate to Davis and Matti’s team email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
To volunteer for Relay or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.relayforlife.org/hampshirecountyma.