Cancer is a monster that has roamed the earth for far too long, stalking families and stealing loved ones. The American Cancer Society (ACS) is stopping that monster in its tracks. Since 1985, communities in America and around the world have been coming together in the Relay For Life to participate with the ACS in achieving that goal. The Relay For Life of Marco Island recently joined the fight against this deadly disease at Veterans Community Park. The event, presented by Robert J. Flugger, was a celebration of life with a message to the monster that soon the beast will be removed from our world!
Event Lead Cathy Nelson welcomed the crowd that included many survivors and their caregivers. Cancer survivor Marva Sutt sang the National Anthem with heartfelt patriotism and gratitude while the San Marco Knights of Columbus proudly displayed our flag. The Survivor Lap was living proof that cancer has no power here. Survivors of all ages, dressed in purple shirts, delivered a powerful punch, marching the track to the theme from Rocky. Caregivers joined in the second lap to reassure their loved ones that they will never be alone or knocked down in the fight. The tents of fundraising teams surrounded the track with the message that Marco Island stands strong against cancer.
Each year the Sandy Holdgate Spirit of Relay Award is presented to a cancer survivor who has displayed courage and dedication to the American Cancer Society in the quest for a cure. The award is named in honor of Sandy Holdgate, a Marco Islander who lost her battle to the disease several years ago. This year’s recipient was Anthony DeLucia, aka DJ Steve Reynolds, who has been a survivor since 2012. DeLucia, who was the emcee for the event, became involved with the American Cancer Society when his dear friend, the late “Disco Dave” Bierbrauer was battling the disease. It was at that time that DeLucia’s wife, June urged him to be tested as well. The rest is history, as Anthony DeLucia is living proof of the importance of early detection. As he graciously accepted this well-deserved award, DeLucia, the voice of 98.1 FM, joked “For the first time in my life, I am at a loss for words!” DeLucia is not only an active ACS volunteer who has served as President of the Board, but he also contributes his time to numerous other organizations in our community. He is indeed a living example of the celebration of life!
Perhaps the most touching moment of the evening was the Luminaria Ceremony, where beacons of light were named in honor of survivors and in remembrance of loved ones lost. The soulful accompaniment of live music by Grammy nominated saxophone artist Eirinn Abu moved the crowd with renditions of Amazing Grace, Unchained Melody and The Prayer. At the beginning of the ceremony, the luminaries were arranged in the center of the track to spell “HOPE.” At its conclusion, the candles seemed to glow with even greater incandescence as they were magically transformed to spell “CURE.” And so, it will be in life, as our hope will soon become a cure as we continue to celebrate, remember and fight back.
The American Cancer Society and the Relay For Life Leadership Committee wish to thank the hundreds of Relay participants and volunteers, the 21 registered fundraising teams, presenting sponsor Robert J. Flugger, and other local sponsors JW Marriott Marco Island, VITAS Healthcare, New Life Community Church, Truly Nolen and the Coastal Breeze News.
If you were unable to attend the event, there is still time to participate as the Relay For Life fundraising season extends through August. Donations may still be made by contacting your American Cancer Society at 239-642-6217, Sue.Olszak@cancer.org, or by visiting relay.acsevents.org/site/TR?pg=entry&fr_id=86474.