June 4 will mark the eighth year of Sebago Lake Relay for Life, an annual walk that raises money for cancer research and programs.
But the relay team says that attendance at the event has dwindled over the past few years. So this year, they’re trying a few different things.
For one, they’ve changed the timing of the event, so instead of walking throughout the night, participants will walk from noon until 10 pm, said committee member Liz Nangle of Windham.
The national fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, held since the mid-1980s, typically lasts all night. The Relay for Life logo is a sun and a moon, and an informal motto is, “Cancer never sleeps and neither will we,” according to committee member Nicole Buzzell of Windham.
Cathie Bucci of Standish, co-chairwoman, said they’re hoping the change will be make the fundraiser family-friendly. The five-person committee has also introduced a carnival theme, with more family-oriented games and challenges to take place during the relay.
The event, typically held at the Windham High School outdoor track, will be at Saint Joseph’s College this year.
The event is being held earlier in the summer than in previous years, again to try to drum up more participants. Due to the busy athletics schedule at the high school, relay team members said they were having a hard time securing a date at the track.
Instead, participants will walk around an outdoor pathway that circles a portion of the campus near the Alfond Center. The path is approximately one-quarter mile, or the length of a standard track.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the indoor track at the Alfond Center.
As of Tuesday, 96 participants across 15 teams are signed up to walk at the event, and they have collectively raised $17,727.44.
Last year, 138 participants across 14 teams raised almost $29,000.
Money raised for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life supports cancer research, but it also supports a number of other programs, a fact Carrie Ann Cole, a committee member from Windham, said is “enlightening” for some people.
The funds support programs like Hope Lodge Center and “Look Good, Feel Better,” which provide support and care to cancer patients. It also helps patients pay for transportation to and from their treatments, especially if they’re making costly cross-country visits.
All of the women on the relay committee said someone close to them has battled cancer, which inspired them to join relay.
Buzzell said people who volunteer for the relay often share that common bond.
It’s an example, she said, of “how something so negative became something very positive.”
Raising money through relay is “a way to feel like I’m helping,” said Nangle.
The French Honors Society at Windham High School will participate in relay this year for the fifth time. The French society has raised approximately $4,000 for the cause since they got involved in relay.
Katy Dresnok, French teacher and adviser to the club, lost her father to lung cancer six years ago. She said the club was inspired to start relaying because cancer has affected the lives of many of the members.
The relay, she said, “is great a way to support (the cause) and give back,” while also facilitating community building and bonding.
A closer look
The annual Sebago Lake Relay for Life event will be held Saturday, June 4 from noon-10 p.m. at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. For more information or to register, see their website, main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY16NE?pg=entry&fr_id=75710.