Hazlet, NJ – At 10pm on June 4, 2011, if you had passed the Raritan High School football field, you would have seen one word illuminated, “HOPE.”

On June 4th through 5th, Raritan High School hosted the American Cancer Society, “Relay for Life.”  Relay For Life is a two-day event where participants set goals and raise money for cancer research, celebrate those who are struggling with cancer and remember those who have lost their battle with the disease.

Event Chair, Andrew LaBarbera said, “For my first time organizing a Relay for Life event I couldn’t be more proud of the goals we’ve met,” he said, “Coming into this event we had a goal to raise $40,000, but we had over 63 teams, 1,000 participants and it’s been projected that we’ve raised over $60,000.00!”

The two-day relay included a Survivor Luncheon, Celebration Ceremony and Luminaria Ceremony.  The luncheon featured Carol Rech, a stage 3c breast cancer survivor from Middletown, New Jersey and Hazlet’s own Patti Dickens, a breast cancer survivor. Dickens is the founder of R.A.I.N.E. (Reaching All In Need Everyday), who had 9 teams participate and she kicked off the “Survivor Celebration Lap.” 

The Luminara Ceremony, co-coordinated by Marianne Ruane, featured live music by Hazlet resident Mat Kiley and Middletown resident Maggie Ruane.  Father Dave of St. Mary’s Church provided words of hope and Joan Antonino read the poem “One Little Candle,” as candles were lit in remembrance and honor of family and friends of participants of the relay.  “It was very touching to see all of the lights lit and at the same time experience the love radiating from the participants of the ceremony,” said Marianne Ruane, “LaBarbera provided us with the tools for an incredibly heartfelt ceremony and we couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated and compassionate event chair – he made this night possible.”


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Of the event, Bradley Bennett a representative from the American Cancer Society was quoted as saying,  “There is no doubt in my mind that none of it would have been possible without the tremendous efforts put in by the event chair, Andrew LaBarbera. He got our committee motivated, our volunteers organized and had a grand vision for not just what this Relay would be for 2011 but what it can be for next year and for years to come.”

For more information about Relay for Life, visit http://www.relayforlife.org/relay

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...