The Brewster Relay for life committee held its first relay this past Saturday evening at Brewster High School. Over 250 participants spread amongst 25 teams walked or jogged the track for 6 hours to raise awareness and funds in the fight against cancer. The teams have been holding various fundraising events around town since the Gala Kickoff back in January. These events ranged from bake sales to paint and sip nights held in conjunction with various local civic organizations.
The evening began with opening remarks by Event Chairperson Katie Divenuto which was followed by the Remembrance lap and the survivor lap. The teams then took to the track and for the next 6 hours at least one person from each team was on the track and sometimes it seemed like entire teams were on the track simultaneously. As the event unfolded various performers from around Putnam and Westchester provided entertainment for the participants and the general public. Spectators wandered amongst the team tents playing various games of skill and chatting with team members who worked the tents when not running. The spectators got to hear stories of loved ones lost to cancer as well as from those that have beaten the disease.
Entertainers included The Ricky Blues Band from Hawthorne, NY, The local group Absolute Zero, a group of high school friends who thrilled their following with songs from the likes of Journey, Ozzy Osbourne and others from the 80's, 90's and today. The Seven Star School of Performing Arts in Brewster company dancers also enthralled the crowd but the stars of the late evening show was the Seven Star Dance Dads. a group of fathers from the company who donated their time, talent, costumes and choreography in tribute to Broadway shows both past and present.
Despite the somewhat hot and muggy evening everyone involved had a great time and Kaite Devenuto said that they were still counting monies raised that day but it was at least $8,000 which would bring the total from January to over $73,000 dollars. The top team in fundraising was Team Acrish and the top individual was Carmela Surace. Another highlight of the evening occurred just after sunset when the Luminary candles were lit. The candles are placed into paper bags and line the track on which the participants walk. Just after sunset the portable lights were turned off and the glow sticks used for safety reasons instead of open flames were placed into bags that spectators and participants purchased and decorated in remembrance of a loved one lost. They were then placed around the track and all participants took a lap in the dark while HH Wells Middle Schooler Aiden Shell led them while playing amazing Grace on his bagpipes
A small closing ceremony was held around midnight where Kelly Blackman, a local woman whose son Kevin was diagnosed with cancer at 4 months old, spoke to the remaining crowd about her son and their fight against the disease. There literally was not a dry eye in the audience as she recounted her more then 2 year ordeal with doctors, insurance companies and others to give her son Kevin the best possible chance to win. Sadly Kevin lost his battle within the last year at 2 1/2 years of age. Kelly encouraged those currently fighing the disease to never give up hope and to keep fighting and to also remember those lost every day.
The event committee was especially pleased with the turnout and support showed by the community, Rose Aglieco, a committee member and a Brewster Chamber of Commerce member said she was extremely pleased with the support of the community and is already thinking about next years event.
Anyone wishing to help or just participate in next years events can visit the Brewster Relay for Life website!