Relay For Life of Hampshire County Marks 20th Anniversary, Welcomes Renowned Speaker

 In Client Press Releases

NORTHAMPTON—The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Hampshire County will mark its 20th anniversary this year when it begins at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 16 at Look Memorial Park at 300 North Main St. in Florence.

To call attention to the anniversary and involve more members of the community at large, Jean Travis, a member of the Event Leadership Team and coordinator for what’s called the Fight Back Ceremony, said this year’s event will feature Izzy Gesell, an author, motivational speaker and humorist as well as a prostate cancer survivor.

Gesell will take to the stage at 10 a.m. on Saturday during the ceremony aimed at fighting back against cancer. Gesell has spoken around the country and around the world for 25 years. He is donating his time to the event and plans to talk about the role humor played in his own process as a cancer survivor.

“We wanted to add something unique and powerful for the anniversary,” said Travis. “We hope people from the surrounding communities can come out to hear him.”

A 24-hour event, Relay For Life gives participants the opportunity to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease. Teams of participants will take turns walking on a temporary track at the park to raise money for cancer research and programs that benefit cancer patients and their families.

“Cancer is not funny,” said Gesell. “But humor is more than telling jokes. It has many functions that most folks don’t understand or make use of. You could say humor is an under-utilized tool, especially for those fighting cancer. It can help us manage our stress and stay resilient.”

His presentation, “Humor as a Resilience Tool,” will focus on how humor can strengthen the bodies, hearts and souls of cancer survivors, their families and caregivers. He will speak at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

At 6 p.m. Friday, the Survivors Lap will be held; cancer survivors will be invited to walk a lap around the track to honor their courage and resilience. The Luminaria Ceremony will follow at 9 p.m. to recognize those who have passed on and offer hope and comfort to others. The Fight Back Ceremony will begin with Gesell’s speech the next morning and call people to take personal action and fight back against cancer. The event will conclude with a closing ceremony.

The Relay For Life of Hampshire County’s Event Leadership Team is made up of Travis, Patty Greene and Mary McCarthy.

To learn more about the event or donate, visit

To learn more about Gesell, visit

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