Relay For Life On Its Way To Lewisboro's John Jay

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Lewisboro's first Relay For Life drew hundreds of people. Photo Credit: Gigi Antonelle

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – This year, Relay For Life, the nationwide fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, is coming to Katonah-Lewisboro for the second time, thanks to the efforts of John Jay HIgh School senior Gigi Antonelle and her co-chair, Ali Flynn.

“I’d been to the Relays at Horace Greeley and Yorktown and I thought it was about time we had our own,” Antonelle said.

Antonelle’s father was diagnosed with cancer at the end of her sophomore year and succumbed just a few months later. “That’s when I got experience as a caregiver and learned what cancer is like,” she explained.

When they organized last year’s premier event, the co-chairs aimed to raise $60,000. They ended up with nearly $180,000 and won Relay’s Rookie of the Year award for outstripping every other novice group in the region.

Relay For Life follows a simple concept. Participants form teams who raise money through sponsorship and repay their sponsors by taking turns walking – for 12 hours straight. Sponsors, friends and supporters stand by to cheer the teams on. Many people camp at the site overnight. Live music, speeches, and various ceremonies fill in the time.

“The most emotional part is the Luminaire ceremony,” said Antonelle. “That’s when candles are lit to honor cancer victims.”

The Relay takes place in June, but there are a number of preliminary events. With Paint The Town Purple, scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, everyone is encouraged to wear purple, the signature Relay color. The organizers are selling purple bows you can display on your mailbox or some other significant spot. Local stores will also decorate their storefronts with purple.

To purchase a purple bow, contact Kristen at kcorelli@optonline.net. The price is $5 and the bows will be left on display until June 22.

As the weeks roll on toward the June 21 event, there will be car washes, bake sales, and other money raising projects. So far, 57 teams have been formed, comprising 352 participants. Donations have passed the $37,000 mark.

On Friday, May 3, a Relay For Life Benefit Concert will be presented at John Jay High School, beginning at 7 p.m. The ten student acts on the program includes a capella groups, solo performers, dancers and local jazz musicians. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for non-students. Contact gigi.antonelle@klschools.org for more information.

Lewisboro-Katonah invites its neighboring towns, like Pound Ridge and North Salem, where there are no Relay events, to join in. Everyone is welcome.

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