A community behind the fight


To the Editor:

It seems that every year the Relay for Life is plagued with rain, wind, thunder and lightening, and Mother Nature certainly delivered again this year. Fortunately, Friday night was perfect. After the inspirational speeches from Susan Rose and Shelly O’Neill, Leslie Look and Mike Cassidy provided insight from a caregiver’s perspective. Then more than 60 Vineyard survivors took to the track. As we stood on the sideline and cheered for our fellow Vineyarders, each wearing a purple shirt, there wasn’t any doubt about why we Relay.

My heart swells with pride at the amazing spirit, support, and energy provided by our community. Although cancer has impacted all of our lives, it has also created a bond that brings us together. We celebrate the survivors, remember those we have lost, and fight back against this terrible disease.

The freak storm caused an abrupt end to this year’s Relay. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to so many individuals and businesses that made our Relay a huge success. Our corporate sponsors were the Rotary Club, the Edgartown Fireman’s Fund, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Sharky’s, and the Gazette. More than 70 other individuals, vendors and event volunteers provided food, entertainment, prizes and/or his/her time, which helped to keep the overhead of our event under five percent.

We were also fortunate to have a dedicated and experienced committee. Thanks to Wendy Guarino, Lindsay Lamana, Joan Hewson, Karen Kukolich, Kathy O’Sullivan, Janine Milakeve, Kathy Stinson, Debbie Levesque, Tammy Capitanio, Rosemary Blair, Nicole Gazaille, Janette Andrews, BJ Yerdon, Harvey Beth, Cliff Jernegan and Lauren Brodeur-Arlia who helped pull it all together and made it look easy. (Trust me, it wasn’t.) A special thanks to Joe Schroeder, Todd Christy, Carrie Welch, and Nick Lapenzo for helping with the Fun Run and Survivor’s Dinner Reception. Both were new additions this year and both will be back next year.

We had 34 teams and 336 registered participants. The Gold medal winner, the MV Cancer Support Group, raised close to $20,000, with the bulk of those funds coming from our top three fundraisers, Sheilah Hughes, Ellen McCarthy, and Eleanor Beth. Mission Possible 1 and Too earned a Silver medal, bringing in $8,155 prior to the Relay, with more still coming in. Jeannie Holenko (lovingly nicknamed “Cupcake”) a first-year team captain, rallied her team with help from Sharon Jackson and Eve Heyman, numbers four and six respectively. Journey of Hope also earned a silver medal, led by Kim Averill. They were celebrating the 4th of July, which was also their beloved Corinne Hatt’s birthday. Their total was almost $10,000, including all of their on-site fundraising and teammate Richard Stone who came in 5th.

I am honored and proud to be a part of the Vineyard community which has been my home for nine years. Because of your amazing generosity, we will be sending the American Cancer Society more than $80,000. Truly unbelievable. Thank you all.

Celebrate, remember, fight back.

Tammy KingACS Relay for Life

Vineyard Haven