The tenth edition of Newtown’s Relay For Life takes place overnight Saturday into Sunday, this weekend. It returns to the Newtown High School Blue & Gold Stadium after several years at Fairfield Hills. Scores of teams and hundreds of registered participants will be on track, literally, to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the American Cancer Society. In the decade since Newtown’s first Relay in 2004, the local event has raised more than $2.4 million. The Relay teams in Newtown are joining more than four million people in 20 countries in what has become a fundraising juggernaut in support of the fight against cancer.
These numbers are impressive. This critical financial support for cancer research and patient services is a very big story — one of the biggest we get to tell year after year. But we have come to believe the durability of the Relay For Life’s tradition of success in Newtown is rooted in the uncounted little stories of personal connection that grow out of this annual event. It is a true person-to-person relay that carries people not just around a track for 12 hours but on and on along that difficult trail of daily life for survivors, caregivers, family, and friends. As we rally for the big cause, we come to understand that our commitment is made durable by what we know of unheralded individual struggles with this disease.
Cancer strikes one life, one family, one circle of friends at a time. Even when it blessedly fades into remission or cure, it engages those it touches for a lifetime. If you are so engaged or would like to experience this circling of friends, and you haven’t been to Newtown’s Relay For Life before, make an effort this year. Organizers promise a true celebration straight through the night, including a tribute and memorial lap dedicated to the Sandy Hook School community. The Relay is where we always get to share not just what we know of adversity but what we know of life. More information on the Relay For Life, including a schedule of events, appears on page A11 this week.