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Relay For Life Gears Up For June 11-12 Event



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Relay For Life Gears Up For June 11-12 Event

By Kaaren Valenta

The last monthly organizational meeting of Newtown’s Relay For Life took place this week with a large turnout of excited volunteers who expect this year’s event to raise much more than the $174,000 raised in the first local relay last year.

“I really believe we could make this a premier event in Newtown,” said Guy Russo, co-chairman and corporate fundraiser. “I think we can eventually raise a half-million dollars. What greater legacy could a town have?”

Last year volunteers at the American Cancer Society’s fundraiser raised almost $10,000 in corporate contributions, a respectable amount for a first-year event. So far this year Mr Russo and Jim Zarifis, whose family was the event’s honorary chairpersons last year, and other volunteers have raised more than $43,000 in corporate donations and there are still five weeks to go before the June 11 event at Newtown High School.

Guy and Lynda Russo are co-chairpersons of the relay along with Dawn Escoda and Ivette Gerics, who launched the first relay last year. All have family members and friends who are cancer survivors or who died from the disease.

Praxair, Inc, of Danbury and Mr Russo’s firm, Canaan Partners of Rowayton are the excalibur sponsors of this year’s relay. Newtown Savings Bank and Nanavaty, Nanavaty and Davenport are the premier sponsors. MasterCard is the platinum sponsor.

Mr Russo said the past few months have been extremely busy for him because his firm was putting together a new venture capital fund, but it still was easy to participate in Relay For Life because it was a family project.

“My whole family was involved,” he said. “Fighting cancer is important to us. My father died of lung cancer two days before Christmas in 1997. Lynda’s mother is a 38-year breast cancer survivor and she lost an infant sister to leukemia.”

“The day after last year’s event, I got a call that my aunt had passed away from cancer,” he added.

This year Newtown Savings Bank has volunteered to host Bank Night, the night that all donations are brought together and counted. The advantage of working at the bank is that the site is secure since so much money is involved, Ms Russo said.

Terri Greenfield, the team recruiter, said that so far 77 teams of walkers have signed up, compared to 63 last year.

“We are hoping to have 90 teams this year,” she said.

The teams keep at least one walker on the track at all time during the overnight event that culminates at 5 am. Adults and children of all fitness levels can participate.

The overnight event will feature music, entertainment, activities, and food along with a luminaria ceremony that will honor persons who have been touched by cancer. Photos of the individuals should be dropped off or mailed to Coldwell Banker/Bob Tendler, 17 Church Hill Road, Newtown 06470 for inclusion in a slide show during the luminaria ceremony. The deadline is Wednesday, June 1. The photos should have the name of the person in the photo written on the back. Anyone who has questions can contact Alice Mascher at 426-5679.

This year the survivorship dinner will be held in the Newtown High School cafeteria, a move that will save the $3,000 that had to be spent for a tent last year. This means the high school entrance will be closed from 6:30 to 7 pm while the participants are ushered from the field and parking lot into the high school.

More information about the local Relay For Life event can be found at www.acsevents.org/relay/ctnewtown or by calling call Lynda and Guy Russo at 426-2995; Dawn Escoda, 270-7541; Ivette Gerics, 426-3589, or any of the committee chairpersons.

Relay For Life Fundraisers

Many Relay For Life fundraisers are scheduled this month. Call for more information.

May 7, 4:30 to 8:30 pm — Ladies Shopping Night, St Rose Parish Hall; Team: Cubs for a Cure, Gina Long, 352-7956 or 270-8240.

May 12, 7:30 pm — Birds of Prey, Reed Intermediate School, donations at the door; Team: Girls Just Want to Raise Funds, Andrea Spencer.

May 14, 7 pm — Rockin’ For a Cure, “Almost An American Idol,” talent show at Newtown High School, sponsored by Interact Club NMS, $5 per person, $15 per family.

May 14, 7 pm — Evening with Friends, hors’ d’oeuvres dancing, beverages at Hawleyville Fire House, $25 per person; Team: Family and Friends, Dina Sabia or 268-2764; RSVP by May 6.

May 15, 3 to 4:30 pm — Doubles Tennis Fundraiser, Beaverbrook, $40 per couple and light dinner; Team: Girls Just Want to Raise Funds, Fran Pacheco, 270-2931.

May 15, 10 am to 1 pm — Belmont’s Ridgefield Golf Range Mini Golf Course, 824 Ethan Allen Road, Ridgefield; Team: Crusaders, Diana Kruzshak, 426-4514.

May 18, Newtown Nail Spa — 15 percent of services that day will be donated to Relay For Life of Newtown; Team: Flex Your Muscles and Fight Cancer, Alice Baye.

May 20, 9 am to 2 pm, and May 21, 9 am to 4 pm — Tag Sale, 44 Bears Hill Road; Team: Snow Riders For A Cure, Denise Buckley, 426-8399; accepting items as donations to sell.

May 21, 9 am to 5 pm — Hoops For Hope, 3 on 3 Charity Tournament, Newtown High School; Team: Newtown’s Angels, Tom DeBenedetto.

May 21, 9 am to dusk — Mother’s Day Flower Basket Sale & Bake Sale, Mason Farm (corner of Routes 25 and 59); Teams: Girls Just Want to Raise Funds & What Dreams Are Made Of.

May 22, 1 pm and 3 pm — “Pure and Simple – A Musical Event for Children,” Reed School, $7 per person; Team: Flying Circus, Alice Mascher, 364-1957 and Carol Mason, 426-3723.

May 27, 10 am to 8 pm — Southern Living at Home, Pampered Chef, Bearmark Designs, and Local Artist, at the Shannons’ home, 10 Woodbine Lane; Team: Snow Riders For A Cure, Trish Shannon, 426-2462.

May 31, 6 pm — Premiere Jewelry Fundraiser, 24 Marlin Road; Team: A League of Our Own, RSVP to Terri Greenfield at 426-6018.

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