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Relay For Life Wins National, Regional Awards



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Relay For Life Wins National, Regional Awards

The Newtown volunteers who organized the 2004 American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay For Life have won national and regional awards for raising nearly $175,000 in their first effort.

Co-chairs Dawn Escoda and Ivette Gerics received the All American Relay For Life Award 2004. The Newtown Relay, held last June on the track at Newtown High School, tied with the relay in New London for the award, one of fewer than ten made nationally by the ACS.

“This was Newtown’s first year and proved to be a model of how a Relay For Life can be successfully structured and led,” said Aimee Zinser of the ACS. “The co-chairs not only led with passion and spirit, but a real sense of community.”

The ACS held a Volunteer Recognition Awards night for the southwestern New England region on November 4 at the Stony Hill Inn in Bethel. Newtown received seven awards that night, including Volunteer of the Year Awards for Ms Escoda and Ms Gerics.

“With boundless energy, Ivette Gerics and Dawn Escoda united the Newtown community in the spirit of hope.  Leaving no stone unturned, their strength carried throughout all the committees and led to a victorious Relay,” said Sarah Shafir, ACS state vice president for cancer control, in announcing the award. “It was these two women that brought Newtown an event encompassing all facets of the community in a common fight against a disease that has effected so many.”

The other awards recipients included Helen Benson, who received the Relay For Life Data Driven Award.

“Helen Benson’s ease and grace, as well as those methodical spreadsheets we all came to appreciate, kept all the walkers and co-chairs organized this year at Newtown’s very first relay,” Ms Shafir said.

Logistics team captains Lynda and Guy Russo received a stewardship award, as did team members Beckett Kohl-Condon and Ken Condon, and Carl Samuelson of the Newtown Parks & Recreation Department and Dominick Posca of the Newtown School District.

“For Lynda and Guy Russo, it all started one cold, snow-covered Saturday morning when the Logistics team had their first survey of the Newtown High School field where their first Relay For Life was to commence,” Ms Shafir said. “As upstanding members of the community, with passion for our cause, their organization and dedication makes them the recipients of the Volunteer Values for Stewardship – Relay For Life Award.”

 “Beckett Kohl Condon and Ken Condon exemplified team spirit as members of the Relay For Life in Newtown Logistics team.  They were the glue that held things together,” Ms Shafir said.

 “Carl Samuelson was a winning team player in Newtown’s first ever Relay For Life.  Providing boundless support and tending to details — right down to the Relay For Life logo painted on the center field — Carl’s leadership and support made the ordinary, extraordinary,” the ACS officer said.

Mr Posca offered the field, and lent a gracious hand in managing the details of a first year event. “Relay For Life in Newtown was an inspiring and successful new community tradition due to Dominick’s guidance, skills, and logistical support,” Ms Shafir said.

Cancer survivor Barb Baldino received the Power of Purple Award

“Barb Baldino’s dedication, detail, and devotion led to the success of a Survivor Reception at the Relay For Life of Newtown that brought the Newtown community together in a way never seen before,” Ms Shafir said.

Each year the society honors volunteers who exemplify the mission of eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering, and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service.

The 2005 Relay For Life will be held June 11 at Newtown High School. Volunteers are needed to help with each of the organizing committees. Next year’s goal is to raise $250,000.

The next organizing meeting will be held on Monday, December 6, at 7 pm, in the cafeteria of  the Newtown Middle School on Queen Street. Everyone who is interested in learning more about the relay is invited to attend.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is an overnight community celebration during which individuals and teams camp out, barbecue, dance, and take turns walking around a track relay-style to raise funds to fight cancer. At nightfall, participants will light hundreds of luminarias (candle lanterns) in a heartwarming ceremony to honor cancer survivors as well as friends and family members lost to the disease.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life represents hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated.

Anyone who cannot attend an organizing event but who wants to help, can call Lynda and Guy Russo at 426-2995 or Dawn Escoda at 270-7541 or Ivette Geric at 426-2589

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. For more information about the American Cancer Society, call 800-ACS-2345, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or visit www.cancer.org.

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